30 October 2020
Yesterday was appearing to just another day until Fortnite creator Epic Games made an unexpected announcement. It revealed its own payment method to process payments for in-app purchases and thus avoiding app store charges. The new method was available on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store directly from within the game.
Epic Games offered lucrative discounts on in-app purchases. It offered a flat 20% discount on V-Bucks, an in-game currency required for purchasing items like skins and emotes. This resulted in 1,000 V-Bucks price dropping to $7.99 from the usual $9.99. It is undoubtedly a significant saving for anyone who loves to play Fortnite and purchase in-app items. It further made it clear that these are not special deals as the company is simply passing on the processing fee savings to customers.
As soon as Apple became aware of what was going on, it quickly removed Fortnite from the App Store citing policy violation. It means users could neither install Fortnite not update the app if they had it installed already. Epic Games responded to the move by filing a lawsuit against Apple on anti-competitive grounds. It accused Apple of misusing its dominance in the mobile market by imposing a huge 30% fee on all transactions as well as restricting the distribution of iOS apps/games to App Store.
Since the new payment method was also available on the Android version, Google quickly followed Apple's footsteps and banned the app as well. It said that even though the game can still be sideloaded, it cannot allow it to be available through the official store as it will be unfair to other developers and publishers. Since then, Epic Games has sued Google for similar anti-competitive reasons that it talked about in Apple's case.
Interestingly, the lawsuit further claims that Google even made OnePlus call off a deal under which a custom Fortnite launcher would have come pre-installed on the latter's smartphones. It also made LG take a similar step and urge it to stay away from such a deal. These are some serious allegations and only the time will tell whether Fortnite will make a return to any or both the stores in the near future. But for now, watch this video released by Fortnite that mocks Apple's iconic 1984 commercial: