Although most people might think of 'Fortnite' as being solely available on consoles, the game has been available on mobile - that's Android and Apple / iOS - for quite some time now.
Yet, Apple and Google have taken 'Fortnite' off their App Store over a dispute involving the game's currency, known as V-Bucks. Essentially, the issue is in how Apple collects a fee every time an in-app purchase is made on any app.
'Fortnite' players can purchase V-Bucks in the game, which are then used for new weapons, items, power-ups, skins, and so on. Currently, Apple and Google pick up at least 30% from any in-app purchase.
Epic Games created a feature that would allow players to purchase V-Bucks directly from them and receive a 20% discount, which Apple and Google both claim circumvents their store policies.
Earlier today, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against both parties, as well as releasing a very cheesy / earnest video that takes inspiration from the iconic '1984' advertisement made for Apple by none other than Ridley Scott.
Here's that ad.
Epic Games' complaint against Google alleges that their payment restrictions on the Play Store constitute a monopoly, and thus a violation of both the Sherman Act and California’s Cartwright Act. With Apple, Epic Games is suing to - according to their complaint - "end Apple’s unfair and anti-competitive actions that Apple undertakes to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion dollar markets," which are the iOS App Distribution Market, and the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.
Apple and Google, of course, see it differently.
In a statement released to media, Apple put out their side of the argument. "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," the statement read.
"Epic (the creators of 'Fortnite') 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."
Apple pointed out that Epic Games have had apps on their store for over a decade, and that they agreed to the terms and guidelines freely, adding that "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."
Gaming is huge business for Apple's App Store. In 2018, gaming accounted for at least 30% of all downloads on the App Store, equating to around 8.9 billion downloads. On the Google Play Store, it's even bigger, at 29.4 billion downloads. It's estimated that around 82% of all revenue from the App Store comes from gaming, whether it be through buying full games or in-app purchases of games.
Given that Apple and Google are unlikely to change their guidelines and terms merely to suit Epic Games without alienating hundreds of other developers, this dispute could easily go on for quite some time. On top of that, the popularity of 'Fortnite' is only increasing with each passing day, especially during the current pandemic.
In May of this year, 'Fortnite' recorded 350 million players in total across all its platforms and hit 100 million downloads via the App Store within its first month. Epic Games, the makers behind 'Fortnite', are currently valued at $18 billion.
Apple and Google, however, are valued at $1.16 trillion and $623 billion respectively.