Update 3: Google also kicked Fortnite off the Play Store, but since Android isn’t locked down, you can just get it straight from Epic instead.
Update 2: Remember Apple’s iconic 1984 ad for the original Macintosh? Epic sure did. This is some 12D chess being played by Epic – they knew exactly how Apple would respond. Epic is filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple.
Update: Apple has kicked Fortnite out of the App Store.
Original story: Epic, the company behind the Unreal Engine, Jazz Jackrabbit, and Fortnite, has been a vocal critic of Apple’s App Stpre policies. Now, though, with the latest Fortnite update, the company is going straight for the jugular, starting a very intense staring contest with Apple.
On both iOS and Android, Epic has introduced a new direct payment option. If you purchase V-bucks or anything else in the game through either the App Store or Google Play Store, it will cost the same as always. But the new direct option comes with the discount; when you select it, the game sends you to a payment screen where you can choose either a credit card or PayPal. “Currently, there are no savings if players use Apple and Google payment options, where Apple and Google collect an exorbitant 30 percent fee on all payments,” Epic says. “If Apple and Google lower their fees on payments, Epic will pass along the savings to players.” (You can check out a list of supported countries here.)
The new direct payment option circumvents Apple’s App Store rules, which mandate that you can only use Apple’s payment system and must hand over 30% of revenue to Apple. This breaks various App Store rules, and forces Apple to either accept Epic’s circumvention, which would effectively mean the end of this rule, or kick Fortnite, one of the biggest and most popular games in the world, off iOS, thereby angering dozens of millions of players and giving antitrust regulators a lot of ammo.
Combined with Apple blocking Microsoft’s xCloud, that’s easily about 100 million people – mobile Fortnite players and Xbox players – that just rean head-first into Apple’s rules.
This is an amazing Mexican standoff, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.
I’m no fan of epic, but I side with them 100% on developers and customers having a right to conduct transactions using more competitive providers. I don’t believe apple is going to back down publically because it stands to loose billions in fees every year if developers and users learn that standing up to apple is effective.
I see a couple possible outcomes:
1. Epic gets the boot by apple. Obviously this makes apple look bad though and it potentially leads to more developers and users migrating to other platforms.
2. Apple doesn’t kick epic, but brings a lawsuit for non-compliance. Not great for the company’s image, but it gives a strong message to other developers not to mess with apple.
2.a. Epic falls back into line
2.b. Epic drops support for apple users & devices. Similar result to #1, however the optics are different. By leaving on it’s own accord epic would appear to be abandoning users rather than having been pushed out.
3. Apple makes some concessions in private, they would not want the public to get wind of it though. They’d want to give the appearance that apple is getting its way (aka business as usual). Epic wouldn’t be allowed to be transparent about the deal.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. For the long term sake of the industry though I hope antitrust eventually puts an end to anticompetitive schemes like this. Markets with ultra-powerful oligopolies is a terrible way to go.