Update 4: Epic is filing for injunctive relief to stop Apple from revoking Epic’s access to development tools for iOS on August 28. If successfully removed, Epic will not have the tools to develop for iOS platforms, including Unreal Engine which Epic licenses to third-party developers.
“If the Unreal Engine can no longer support Apple platforms, the software developers that use it will be forced to use alternatives,” Epic says in a preliminary statement to courts. “The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable. Preliminary injunctive relief is necessary to prevent Apple from crushing Epic before this case could ever get to judgement.”
Update 3: Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has publicly commented about the company’s decision to sue Apple and Google, following rampant debate online about the merits of the suit, Epic’s intentions, and more.
“At the most basic level, we’re fighting for the freedom of people who bought smartphones to install apps from sources of their choosing, the freedom for creators of apps to distribute them as they choose, and the freedom of both groups to do business directly,” Sweeney wrote in a start of his Twitter thread, before continuing:
“The primary opposing argument is: ‘Smartphone markers can do whatever they want’. This as an awful notion. We all have rights, and we need to fight to defend our rights against whoever would deny them. Even if that means fighting a beloved company like Apple.
“Another argument against supporting #FreeFortnite is “this is just a billion dollar company fighting a trillion dollar company about money”. But the fight isn’t over Epic wanting a special deal, it’s about the basic freedoms of all consumers and developers.
“Finally, there’s nothing wrong with fighting about money. You work hard to earn this stuff. When you spent it, the way it’s divided determines whether your money funds the creation of games or is taken by middlemen who use their power to separate gamers from game creators.”
Update 2: Epic has subsequently filed a suit against Google as well, citing that “Google has eliminated competition in the distribution of Android apps using myriad contractual and technical barriers.” According to Epic, “Google’s actions force app developers and consumers into Google’s own monopolized ‘app store’—the Google Play Store. Google has thus installed itself as an unavoidable middleman for app developers who wish to reach Android users and vice versa. Google uses this monopoly power to impose a tax that siphons monopoly profits for itself every time an app.”
Epic is not seeking compensation, but rather “injunctive relief that would deliver… an open, competitive Android ecosystem for all users and industry participants.”
The full details of the suit can be read via The Verge.
Update: Google has now decided to remove Fortnite from the Google Play store for Android devices as well.
In a statement to The Verge, Google explained that “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.”
Fortnite can still be installed on Android devices directly through the Epic Games app.
Original story follows:
Apple has confirmed that it has removed Fortnite from the iOS App Store following Epic Games’ alteration of the price of Fortnite V-Bucks and a new direct payment system in response to Apple and Google’s “exorbitant” app store fees. Epic has responded by filing a complaint for injunctive relief against Apple.
In a statement to The Verge, Apple confirmed that “As a result [of Epic’s update to the game,] their Fortnite app has been removed from the store.”
“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,” Apple’s larger statement reads. “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.”
Apple goes on to cite Epic’s agreement to the App Store rules in the first place, which allowed Fortnite to exist previously on the app store, noting 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.”
The company explains that it “will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store,” but it remains unclear how long this ban from the store may last at this time.
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Epic Sues Apple Over App Store Policies
Epic has responded to this move by filing a legal complaint in California, stating that “Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation.”
“Rather than tolerate this healthy competition and compete on the merits of its offering, Apple responded by removing Fortnite from sale on the App Store, which means that new users cannot download the app, and users who have already downloaded prior versions of the app from the App Store cannot update it to the latest version,” Epic’s legal complaint reads. “This also means that Fortnite players who downloaded their app from the App Store will not receive updates to Fortnite through the App Store, either automatically or by searching the App Store for the update. 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.
“Apple imposes unreasonable and unlawful restraints to completely monopolize both markets,” the complaint goes on to read, taking issue with the “30% tax” both apps and in-app purchases come with, and the company believes Apple’s behavior has “anti-competitive consequences” on the industry.
Update: IGN has reached out to Epic for additional comment and will update this story should they respond. Epic debuted an in-game event, a new short film titled “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” which was a direct parody of Apple’s famous 1984 commercial, an ad Epic cites in its suit against Apple.
In the video, text reads “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,’” along with the hashtag #FreeFortnite. Epic has elaborated on its #FreeFortnite campaign, urging fans affected by these recent moves to petition Apple on social media to reinstate Fortnite.
How Fortnite’s Removal Affects iOS Players
Epic has explained that players who already had Fortnite downloaded on iOS devices will be able to continue playing, but the app cannot be updated further. So once Fortnite Chapter 2 – Season 4 begins, which could be potentially as early as Aug. 28, iOS players will not be able to play Fortnite in the new season’s content or Battle Pass unless this matter is resolved before then.
And for those asking for refunds for purchases made through the iOS version, Epic’s FAQ explains that those refunds must be requested through Apple, not Epic, due to the nature of in-app purchases. As for why Epic does not want to agree to Apple’s terms any longer, the company said “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.”
Before Apple’s announcement, Epic confirmed a change to the cost of V-Bucks, changing the price of 1,000 V-Bucks from $9.99 to $7.99 on consoles, Mac, and PC. Mobile works somewhat differently, as players can still buy using Apple or Google accounts at the higher price, but will now offer ‘Epic direct payment’ when purchasing V-Bucks on mobile devices to save the 20%. Epic noted that this was done to “pass along the savings to players,” citing the “exorbitant 30% fee” Apple and Google collect on every V-Buck payment. In the future, Epic is open to altering the deal “if Apple and Google lower their fees on payments.”
Epic is not the only gaming company to recently come into a public disagreement with Apple and its App Store policies. Apple’s recent decision to block the Xbox Game Pass app from iOS drew ire from Microsoft, which said “Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content.”
And Apple also recently decided to restrict the Facebook Gaming app’s functionality on iOS, with Facebook explaining how “months of submissions and repeated rejections by Apple” led them to “remove instant games entirely from the standalone app.”[poilib element=”accentDivider”]
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor and host of Podcast Beyond! Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.