Epic and Apple Undergo Public Divorce After Fortnite App Store Removal, Lawyers Are Involved

Epic is now pursuing legal action.

In a world where having billions of dollars in value can mean you can escape the consequences of your actions in most scenarios, that same privilege is apparently not afforded to you when you deliberately try to undermine another entity with billions of dollars in value. That is why Fortnite has been removed from the Apple App Store.

All seemingly according to Epic Games’ plan?

Today, the Fortnite developer attempted to circumvent Apple’s 30% pay cut for all in-app purchases by making it possible to purchase V-Bucks, the battle royale’s in-game currency, with an “Epic direct payment,” which would allow these funds to go directly to Epic rather than through the Apple App Store. By offering this at a discount, players would naturally gravitate toward the cheaper option, and thus, Apple would not receive its usual 30% cut. Here’s a screenshot of the in-game store where players could buy V-Bucks:

As you can expect, Apple was not having it, and has since removed the game from its digital storefront. In a statement provided to The Verge, Apple said that this new microtransaction method violates Apple’s App Store guidelines, and while the company plans to attempt to resolve the issue, Epic will not be getting any preferential treatment, despite Fortnite’s success.

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.

While it might seem like Epic is just trying to circumvent Apple’s rules for more profit (which, it still is), following Fortnite’s pulling from the App Store, Epic filed for legal action against Apple for its, as Epic describes it, “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices” for software distribution that are “unreasonable and unlawful.” While this might look like two giants getting into it, in a world where Epic wins out, this could have a positive impact for any company, big or small, that is distributing games and apps through Apple’s services.

Epic established that this was all part of the plan with a short called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” which references the Apple Mac “1984” ad.