Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular games with over 350 million global players, has been suddenly removed from Apple’s App Store over a payment dispute.
Apple has taken issue with Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, and a new feature it introduced in the game.
Fortnite started offering its players discounts on in-app purchases if they made direct payments, bypassing a transaction through the App Store, which in turn eliminates Apple’s commission fee.
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Apple makes a lot of money through its App Store, charging developers between 15 and 30 percent for in-app purchases or downloads made in apps and games. These terms are outlined in the App Store terms and conditions.
In a statement made to The Verge, Apple said “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 Games has responded to the removal of Fortnite from the app store in aggressive fashion. The developer has filed a lawsuit against Apple, released a ‘protest video’ and launched a #FreeFortnite campaign.
In its own statement in response to Apple’s move, Epic Games said: "Apple has blocked Fortnite from the App Store, removing everyone’s ability to install and update the game on iOS devices, while instructing Epic to 'remove the ‘Epic direct payment’ feature'. Apple is keeping prices high so they can collect 30 per cent of your payments, and is blocking Fortnite in order to prevent Epic from passing on the savings from direct payments to you! Join the fight against @AppStore on social media with #FreeFortnite."
Epic Games’ lawsuit claims that the App Store is a monopoly, and it has accused Apple of "seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation".
Currently, anyone who has Fortnite downloaded onto an Apple device can run the game as normal, but what this means for future updates remains to be seen.
Apple has stated that it will “make every effort to work with Epic”.
Epic Games also implemented the controversial new payment system into the Android version of Fortnite and Google has followed Apple’s lead and removed the game from its Play Store. However, while iOS users are strictly limited to only using apps downloaded from the official App Store, Android users can download apps from web browsers too, and in this case can continue to download Fortnite through Epic Games’ own app launcher.