Apple removes Fortnite from App Store due to payment dispute

Apple says game developer created alternative payment option with 'express intent of violating the App Store guidelines'

Chelsea Ritschel
Thursday 13 August 2020 22:04
Comments
Epic Games troll Apple with 1984 mock advert #freefortnite

Apple has removed the hugely popular game Fortnite from its App Store following a dispute with the game’s developer Epic Games over payment options.

On Thursday, Fortnite began offering players discounts if they made in-app purchases through direct payment, rather than through the App Store, allowing the developer to bypass Apple's commission fee for transactions.

As outlined in the App Store terms, Apple charges developers 15 to 30 per cent for in-app purchases or downloads.

In a statement to The Verge, Apple said it had removed Epic Games’ app for “violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users.”

According to Apple, Epic Games implemented the new feature, "which was not reviewed or approved by Apple," 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."

The tech company also said it would "make every effort to work with Epic" to resolve the issue, but that it would not allow the game developer a "special arrangement".

"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 statement reads, in part. "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."

Following Apple's removal of the app, Epic announced it had taken legal action against the company on its website, where it reads: "#FreeFortnite."

"Apple has blocked Fortnite from the App Store, removing everyone’s ability to install and update the game on iOS devices, while instructing Epic to 'remove the ‘Epic direct payment’ feature'. Apple is keeping prices high so they can collect 30 per cent of your payments, and is blocking Fortnite in order to prevent Epic from passing on the savings from direct payments to you!" the company said on its website. "Join the fight against @AppStore on social media with #FreeFortnite."

The developer also added that it has "taken legal action to end Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces," and directed visitors to the lawsuit filing.

In the legal papers, Epic accuses Apple of "seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation".

As of now, those who have Fortnite already downloaded on iOS are able to still access the game, according to The Verge.

In May, Epic revealed that Fortnite had amassed more than 350m registered users.

The Independent has contacted Apple and Epic Games for comment.

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