Fortnite creator says Apple wanted to 'destroy' them amid bid to put app back on iPhones

Fortnite was banned from Apple and Google’s store following the introduction of a new direct payment method which broke the tech giants’ rules

Adam Smith
Monday 07 September 2020 12:57
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Epic Games troll Apple with 1984 mock advert #freefortnite

Epic Games has filed for Fortnite to be restored to Apple’s App Store, putting the popular game back on iPhones and iPads.

Fortnite was removed from both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store after developer and publisher Epic Games added a new payment system that allowed it to bypass the technology giants’ taxes.

In response, Apple and Google stopped the game from being purchased on iOS and Android devices.

Apple takes a 30 per cent cut from purchases made within apps that were downloaded from its store.  

Epic Games, and others, have argued that this is unfair, as they have no way of adding in other payment methods.

Epic Games’ motion says that the game developer is “likely to succeed on the merits of its claims” and that the absence of a preliminary injunction, and that Epic Games is “likely to suffer irreparable harm”.

It also argues that the Epic Games is more likely to suffer more harm than Apple, as well as making the case that “public interest supports” the game’s reinstation.  

Epic has attempted to enlist Fortnite fans into the fight with a publicity campaign that has included a marketing campaign mocking Apple’s most famous ad. Dozens of listings for pre-owned iPhones with Fortnite installed have appeared on eBay after Apple removed the game from its App Store. 

“Apple is a monopolist. It controls all app distribution on iOS. It controls all in-app payment processing for digital content on iOS,” Epic Games wrote.

“It unlawfully maintains these two monopolies by explicitly prohibiting any competitive entry in either market. It is highly likely to lose this case.”

It goes on to say that Apple  “retaliated with ferocity” when it ended Epic Games’ access to its  Apple Developer Program accounts, which allows the company to make software for both iPhones and Macs.

The Unreal Engine is a game engine that other developers use to make games, and as such Apple’s decision could affect many more companies than Epic.

“This was a clear warning to any other developer that would dare challenge Apple’s monopolies: follow our rules or we will cut you off from a billion iOS consumers—challenge us and we will destroy your business,” Epic also wrote.

It says that daily active users on iOS have decreased by 60 per cent since it was removed from the App Store, as well as resulting in “a loss of goodwill and irreparable damage to Epic’s reputation”.

“Epic may never see these users again”, it continues.

The Independent has reached out to Apple for comment.

In a previous statement, the smartphone giant had said that it "very much wants to keep the company" on the App Store, and referred to the ongoing issues as a "problem Epic has created for itself".

"The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users and a great business opportunity for all developers. Epic has been one of the most successful developers on the App Store, growing into a multibillion dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world. We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store.

"The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers. We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers."

The next hearing between Epic and Apple is set for 28 September.  

Previous rulings from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers have stated that while Apple cannot block Epic Games from developing the Unreal Engine, it has no need to reinstate Fortnite.

Epic Games is not the only company that has come out against what it sees as Apple’s monopolistic hold over its ecosystem.

Recently, Apple forced Wordpress to add in-app purchases to its app, but u-turned on the decision following a backlash when Apple cut off the ability for WordPress to update its applications on iPhones and iPads.

WordPress’s iPhone and iPad apps did not sell products; WordPress’ website does allow users to purchase custom domain names and website packages, but these were not available in the app.

In 2019, Spotify also lodged a complaint against Apple, arguing that it is using its dominance over the iPhone to give itself an unfair advantage.

The company said Apple was stopping Spotify from integrating certain features in order to keep its advantage with regards to Apple Music.

It also struck out against the 30 per cent tax, as subscribers to Spotify would have to pay more on iOS than they would if they subscribed on desktop.  

It also pointed out there was no equivalent tax for Apple Music.

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