What’s the fight about?
Apple and Google removed Epic Games’ Fortnite from their respective app stores post the game developer launching a direct in-game payment plan, one that bypasses Google and Apple.
A direct payment plan gave users an extra option to directly pay to Epic for Fornite’s in-app purchases. In contrast, Apple and Google both take a 30 percent share from the in-app revenues in games.
Here’s what went down!
Epic Games, developer of Fortnight, recently began allowing players to purchase Fortnite’s in-game currency, V Bucks, directly from the company itself. While Fortnite is a free game, players are required to pay for multiple in-app purchases of weapons and skins.
Apple requires these purchases to take place in-app so that it can take a cut of 30% fee which certain developers are required to pay the companies for in-app purchases.
This violated Apple’s longstanding policy that apps must make billing possible only through Apple and not within their app.
This led to first, Apple and then followed by Google to pull “Fortnite” from the App Store and Google Play, respectively. Apple and Google both cited a direct payment feature rolled out on the Fortnite app as the violation.
While defending their business practices, both Apple and Google believe that the commission fees are necessary because of the stores’ services, including security and safeguarding user privacy.Tweet
In a statement, Apple said, “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.”
In response, Epic Games sued Apple and Google in Federal court, accusing them of monopolistic behavior over how they distribute apps to devices and process payments for digital content.
Epic in its lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California said, “Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear”.
Epic has argued for marketplaces to lower fees on app developers. It has also called for Apple to open up to the competition in the iOS app distribution market.
In an exciting turn of events, Spotify, whose rival is Apple applauded Epic’s move. “Apple’s unfair practices have disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers for far too long,” Spotify said.
This streaming music app had once filed an antitrust complaint against the iPhone maker in Europe. In 2019, Spotify had complained to the European Commission about Apple’s 30% cut.
Daniel Ek, founder, and CEO of Spotify explained that paying this 30% would “force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do”. He claimed that if they chose to opt-out of Apple’s payment system, then Apple would “applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify. For example, they limit our communication with our customers—including our outreach beyond the app”.
What happens to Fortnite now?
For the Apple app store, the removal of Fortnite translates into new players not being able to download the game. What that also means is that existing players won’t be able to receive updates. However, the game should continue to work on devices where it is already installed.
While Google said that although Fortnite has violated its policies, it has not been banned from Android and can be downloaded from various Android platforms. “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. 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,” Google said in a statement.
The game can be downloaded from other platforms such as the Epic Games app that is available on the Play Store and Samsung Galaxy Store, exclusively for Samsung users.
Fortnite V/s Apple: Frame by Frame
Epic launched a campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite and created a parody of Apple’s coming of age “1984” television ad. Epic also urged its players to seek refunds from Apple if they lose access to the game.
Watch both of these ads to understand the dig for yourself.
Apple’s 1984 SuperBowl ad :
Fornite’s dig at Apple, titled, “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”:
Let us know your thoughts on this epic move by Fortnite in the comments below!