The Fortnite App Store version has been removed from sale after Epic Games was said to be "violating the App Store guidelines" with the introduction of its Epic direct payment system.
Earlier today, Epic Games introduced a permanent 20% price cut on V-Bucks and real-money purchases in Fortnite. While the price reduction was pretty straightforward on PC and consoles, mobile devices had a different plan: the Epic direct payment.
Simply put, the Epic direct payment would send your money directly to Epic Games instead of the App Store. Apple appears to have taken issue with this plan and pulled the Fortnite App Store version a few hours earlier.
Why Was the Fortnite App Store Version Removed?
The reasoning behind the Fortnite App Store version being removed from the App Store was provided in a statement to The Verge:
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 it’s 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.
We've reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article when we receive a response.
If you think the story ends there, you're dead wrong. Epic Games has announced that it's going to be taking Apple to court — and it doesn't look like the lawyers are pulling any punches.
Epic Games Files Legal Complaint Against Apple
The story doesn't end with Apple removing Fortnite from the App Store, though — Epic Games has filed a lawsuit against Apple seeking injunctive relief. Epic Games has responded to our request for comment and opted to provide a link to the legal complaint [PDF] with the following excerpt highlighted:
Rather than tolerate this healthy competition and compete on the merits of its offering, Apple responded by removing Fortnite from sale on the App Store, which means that new users cannot download the app, and users who have already downloaded prior versions of the app from the App Store cannot update it to the latest version. This also means that Fortnite players who downloaded their app from the App Store will not receive updates to Fortnite through the App Store, either automatically or by searching the App Store for the update. Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.
The complaint alleges that Apple violates section 2 of the Sherman Act (among other things), one of the major anti-monopoly laws in the United States. It accuses Apple of having an unlawful monopoly and of placing unreasonable restraints on trade — the trade, in this case, is the in-app purchases on the Fortnite App Store version.
Epic Games seeks the issuance of an injunction that would prohibit Apple's alleged conduct and a declaration that the contractual and policy restraints placed on App Store developers are "unlawful and unenforceable", along with any equitable relief deemed suitable by the court.
That's not all, though — Epic Games has announced the premier of a new short in Fortnite Party Royale:
Fortnite Party Royale will premiere a new short: Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite. Join us at 4PM ET. pic.twitter.com/BWvndK3gDt— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
This reference might fly over the heads of the yougner folks. It's referring to Apple's iconic "1984" advertisement which premiered at the beginning of 1984, referring to George Orwell's novel of the same name and setting Apple up as a company that breaks conventions.
Unfortunately, it seems that Fortnite may be unavailable on the App Store for a while. Legal cases don't get solved overnight and it seems like Epic has come out of the gate with guns blazing.
Who do you think will win this legal battle over the Fortnite App Store version? Are you upset that Fortnite is unavailable on the App Store? Let us know in the comments below!