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Why Was Fortnite Banned By Apple And Google?

Apple and Google have banned Fortnite from their app stores. Lawsuits are involved. #FreeFortnite is trending. What exactly happened?


Epic Games is feuding with Apple and Google over a move the Fortnite developer made without either mobile giant's approval, which resulted in Apple and Google banning Fortnite from the App Store and Google Play. If you've seen #FreeFortnite trending on social media or caught that Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite video Epic posted, you're probably wondering what happened. Here's a quick breakdown.

What Did Fortnite Do To Make Apple And Google Mad?

On Thursday, August 13, Epic Games introduced its own direct, in-app payment system for Fortnite across all platforms. Called the Fortnite Mega Drop, the new system implemented permanent discounts of up to 20% on V-bucks, Fortnite's in-game currency. On PC and console, this isn't a problem, but on mobile devices, things get a little more controversial.

Fortnite's new direct payment method on iOS devices, prior to App Store removal.
Fortnite's new direct payment method on iOS devices, prior to App Store removal.

Both Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store collect a 30% fee from in-game purchases on their platforms. The new payment system gives players a choice between processing their in-app purchase through Apple (on iOS) or Google (on Android), thus paying a few dollars more and allowing Apple or Google to take their usual cut, or bypassing this step altogether and paying a lower price directly to Epic. By introducing a direct payment system that sidesteps Apple's fee, Epic Games has violated the App Store guidelines. The App Store is the only way you're able to install apps on an iOS device. This is not true on Android, where apps can be downloaded via other methods.

Why Was Fortnite Banned From The App Store And Google Play?

In response to Epic Games implementing this direct payment system without Apple's prior approval, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store.

In a statement, Apple said, "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."

As of Fortnite Season 4, iOS players cannot play with anyone on other platforms. If the game is still installed, however, they can keep playing the previous version of the game with each other. Android players must download the game directly from Epic or the Samsung Galaxy Store to get Season 4 content.

Apple says it will "make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store."

Google also took action against Fortnite and removed it from the Google Play Store. In a statement to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said, "The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play."

Why Did Epic Games Sue Apple And Google?

Epic Games clearly anticipated Apple's response to its actions. Between the #FreeFortnite tag and the Nineteen Eighty-Four parody video, Epic Games has also launched a lawsuit against Apple to, in its words, "end Apple’s unfair and anti-competitive actions that Apple undertakes to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion dollar markets: (i) the iOS App Distribution Market, and (ii) the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market." It also followed with a lawsuit against Google for similar reasons.

In its updated Mega Drop FAQ, Epic Games took the opportunity to present its own thoughts on the behavior of mobile giants like Apple, stating, "Epic’s position is that all mobile developers and consumers have the right to choose alternate payment providers that charge less, as is the norm on all other general-purpose computing platforms, including Web, Windows, and Mac. We expect to see a general change in smartphone practices industry-wide for all developers that brings greater value and freedom of choice to consumers. We expect Apple to unblock Fortnite."

For additional up-to-date details, check up on our developing story on the Apple, Google, and Fortnite controversy.

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