Thursday, 20th August, 2020 - 11:28
If you aren’t an avid mobile phone gamer, you may not have noticed that Fortnite was rather unceremoniously yanked from the Apple App Store on iOS and the Google Play store for Android devices. But why did the 2 major corporations take these drastic steps against a game that once boasted 250 million players (as of March 2019)?
On 13/08/20, Epic Games pushed a new update allowing players to purchase V-Bucks, the virtual currency used in Fortnite, directly from themselves at a discounted price. This meant circumventing the Apple App and Google Play store’s in-app purchases, including the 30% fees that Apple and Google impose on the developers for these transactions. Understandably Apple were not happy with this update, and within hours they pulled the game from the App store, essentially making the game unplayable on iOS devices. Google followed suit shortly after. Apple then provided the following statement:
“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…”
Almost immediately, Epic Games filed a lawsuit directed at Apple (and later Google) and launched a social media campaign called “#FreeFortnite”. This included a parody of the original ‘1984’ Apple Superbowl advert, reshot with Fortnite characters. This alludes to the fact that Epic knew full well that Apple and Google would reply in this way, and it was all part of their plan.
Epic’s following immediate lawsuit was focused on what they call a ‘Monopoly’ that Apple and Google have on their respective App Stores. They believe that consumers are being affected by the 30% fees on transactions, as most developers up the costs of these in-app purchases to cover the added fees. If the fees are reduced or removed, players will be charged less for the transactions.
In a week where Apple became the first US company to be valued at $2 Trillion, it is perhaps unfortunate timing for Apple as they may struggle to justify the need for such restrictive fees on in-app transactions to the public. Only time will tell if “#FreeFortnite” is a successful operation. Whose side are you on? Would this dissuade you from buying a refurbished iphone or a refurbished android phone?