In a rather bizarre turn of events, Apple has just removed Fortnite from its iOS App Store. As of right now, if you open the app store on your iPhone and search for the game, you won’t be able to find it.
Fortnite Battle Royale is one of, if not the biggest game, and cultural phenomenon in the world right now. The battle royale shooter has managed to continue its reign at the top for many years now with no signs of slowing down any time soon. The removal of Fortnite from the app store is a seismic move by Apple though and could have some massive implications moving forward.
Why did Apple remove Fortnite from the App Store?
Why did Apple remove the Battle Royale game from their App Store though? Well, it all started when Fortnite launched on the iOS way back in the day. Usually, on other platforms like gaming consoles or Android, Fortnite has its own store and currency system to manage microtransactions. These are linked to the Epic Store with proceeds going straight to Epic Games.
Due to Apple’s store policies though, this was not quite possible on iOS and Fortnite had to come to a settlement with the Cupertino company. So, if you were playing Fortnite on Apple’s platform and wanted to purchase in-game currency for microtransactions, you had to use the App store method. This meant that Apple took a 30% commission on all purchases made for Fortnite on iOS.
However, yesterday, a new option popped up within Fortnite’s store on iOS that allowed players to directly purchase in-game currency through the Epic Games Store, bypassing the Apple App Store in the process. Not only that but the Epic Store option also came with a pretty significant discount as compared to the App Store option since Apple wouldn’t be taking its cut anymore.
Having said that, it seems like Apple has brought the hammer down on Fortnite after Epic Games seemingly broke their store policies. When the change happened yesterday, it was assumed by everyone that Apple had struck a deal with Epic Games to allow Epic Store purchases directly through iOS, bypassing the App Store. But now, it looks like Apple isn’t happy with this move and isn’t ready to bow down to any pressure either.
Apple later came out and stated that the takedown was indeed done due to a breach of store policies and while the company was willing to cooperate with Epic Games to bring Fortnite back to the App Store, it wasn’t going to change its policies specifically for the game.
Here is the official statement from Apple:
“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. 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.
Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem – including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. 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. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
In response, the official Fortnite Twitter account posted that Epic Games has indeed filed legal papers in response to Apple.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been pretty vocal about Apple’s anti-consumer and competition-stomping policies on Twitter lately citing that the company seriously needs to change its ways if it wants to move forward in the industry.
It pains me to complain about Apple in this way. Apple is one of the greatest companies that has ever existed, perhaps the greatest. But they're fundamentally wrong in blocking competition and choice on devices they make, and that holds up entire fields of technological progress.
— Possibly Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) July 29, 2020
He specifically pointed towards the exorbitant amount of fees that Apple charges on its store, essentially saying that there is no way anything can be very profitable on the storefront if Apple continues to take its massive slice of the pie.
Epic Games has not been the only company unhappy with Apple’s policies lately. A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it would not be able to launch Project xCloud, its cloud-based game streaming service on iOS due to Apple’s store policies.
In their defense, Apple issued a statement that essentially said that there was no possible way to vet through all the games being offered on Project xCloud and that just wasn’t acceptable to them. However, if you look at it, Apple doesn’t do that with other streaming services like Netflix either.
Furthermore, a Microsoft spokesperson also reached out and said that every individual game that makes its way to xCloud is properly checked and assigned Pegi, ESRB, or other regional ratings. Potentially, Apple could be blocking xCloud from its platform just because it is a potential competitor for Apple Arcade and the company just wouldn’t get any cut from the subscription money that Microsoft earns from it.
Nevertheless, this recent campaign against Apple by massive companies like Microsoft and Epic Games is not to be taken lightly and it will be very interesting to see which side manages to have its way at the end of the day.