Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, is suing Apple and Google after the tech giants blocked the wildly popular game from their app stores on Thursday. Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store removed Fortnite because Epic Games violated their guidelines by announcing a new way for players to buy the in-game currency. This method bypasses Apple and Google’s payment systems.
Epic Games has responded to the ban by almost immediately filing a lawsuit against Apple and Google by publishing a statement titled #FreeFortnite. The decision to sue the giants seems to be premeditated. As part of this statement, Epic Games released a parody video in Fortnite Party Royale of Apple’s infamous “1984” Macintosh commercial. The video titled “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” is a scene by scene recreation of the commercial that ends with the following message:
‘Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming “1984” #FreeFortnite.’
Epic takes on Apple first, then Google
The controversy began when Epic Games announced that it was offering a permanent 20% discount on Fortnite's in-game currency if players purchase directly from Epic. "Currently, when using Apple and Google payment options, Apple and Google collect a 30% fee, and the up to 20% price drop does not apply.", said Epic in a blog post. "If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you."
Hours after Epic CEO Tim Sweeney publicly criticized both Apple and Google for these practices, Fortnite disappeared from Apple's app store to which Epic Games responded by slapping a lawsuit. "Apple's removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS in-app payment processing market," Epic said in its complaint.
Apple responded saying that Epic had violated its App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments. "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.", Apple said in a statement to CNN Business.
Later in the day, Google said it had to remove Fortnite from the Google Play Store, although the game can still be installed from other sources on Android devices. "The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores," Google said in a statement. "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." In response, Epic filed another lawsuit, this time against Google.
As Epic is preparing to launch its own software marketplace, Sweeney said it no longer makes sense for app stores to take such a hefty chunk of app developers' revenue. "The 70/30 per cent split was a breakthrough more than a decade ago with the advent of Steam, the Apple App Store, and Google Play," Epic says its own app store takes a much smaller cut of 12% from app makers.