In game-changing move today, the Fortnite app has been removed from the Apple and Google Play mobile app stores. Epic games altered the way micro-transactions worked in the Fortnite mobile app to bypass platform fees. As this change violated the Terms and Conditions of both the Apple and Google Play mobile app stores, Fortnight has been removed for purchase. Fortnite has responded with a marketing campaign and legal action against Apple.
Epic games have launched an attack campaign today against Apple. The campaign features a short video parody of the 1984 Apple Macintosh Commercial, ending with the statement:
“Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fornite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming “1984”. #FreeFornite”.
Epic games are framing this move from Apple as being anti-consumerist. The in-app purchase system changes implemented by EPIC passed on a 20% discount to users on the purchase of their virtual currency (V-Bucks) while bypassing the 30% commission Apple would collect from in-app purchases. Epic claim that the block of the app prevents the offer of direct to user discounts. Epic has also shared a direct link to the legal complaint filed today, for any legal buffs wanting more details.
Fornite have release and FAQ on their website to respond to some of the common questions being raised by users. For mobile gamers who already have the app installed on their Apple device, they will be able to continue playing the game for now.
“If you already downloaded Fortnite via the App Store, you should have no issues continuing to play Chapter 2 – Season 3’s 13.40 update — whether you’re only playing on mobile devices or also playing the latest version of Fortnite on other devices.
Once Chapter 2 – Season 4 begins, players accessing Fortnite will still be able to play the 13.40 version of Fortnite, but will not be able to access any new content or the new Battle Pass.”
Fornite’s developers are standing defiantly against the removal of the game from the Apple store, noting on the Epic Games store website:
“Epic believes that you have a right to save money thanks to using more efficient, new purchase options. Apple’s rules add a 30% tax on all of your purchases, and they punish game developers like us who offer direct payment options.”
It is interesting to note that to the time of writing this article, Epic has not mentioned any action against Google for the removal of the app from the Google Play store. Google Play also charge a 30% transaction fee to developers for in-app purchases.
Apple, in the past, has been willing to negotiate with big outlets, to adjust the 30% fee. In 2016, Amazon Prime and Apple worked out a deal that lowered the commission fee to 15%, for charges taken from Amazon Prime Video subscription services.
This action will impact young mobile users in the United States, who are already facing app access disruption with the recent executive order to ban Tik Tok.
With esports on mobile generating $19.5B (USD) profits in 2019, the outcome of this legal decision will have significant impacts on the mobile and gaming landscape.
The Goodbye Fortnite song by the GOA team may have taken on new meaning for mobile users, if Apple and Google do not welcome Fortnite back to their app stores.