After welcoming millions of players into the Battle Royale on its cross-platform smash Fortnite, Epic Games is now fighting a battle of its own.
The Fortnite app was delisted from the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android devices after Epic Games issued an update that created a direct payment method for players to purchase V-Bucks — the pillar of Fortnite’s in-game currency system. Apple, and subsequently, Google, believe this to be a violation of their Terms of Service (ToS) and removed the popular game from their stores. Epic Games has already begun a #FreeFortnite campaign, complete with Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite, a short film that takes aim at Apple’s famed 1984 spot.
Epic Games says that it’s calling on fans to “take a stand” and “has taken legal action to end Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces.” The filing was made public last night.
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At the center of the dispute is the 30% commission that Apple takes from all in-app purchases and downloads facilitated through the App Store. In response, Apple issued a statement to MacRumors establishing its position on the matter:
“Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users. As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.
Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem — including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
Google’s ecosystem for Android is a bit different in that it’s an open system in which users can install software freely without going through Google Play. In a statement issued by Google to The Verge, the company says, “While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”
Fortnite has become a licensing juggernaut, with toy deals spread across Jazwares, Moose Toys, McFarlane Toys, and others.
Look for updates on this story as it unfolds.