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Explained: Why Apple and Google removed Epic Games’ Fortnite from their app store

Fortnite is a free game, but players are required to pay for various in-app purchases of weapons and skins.

Written by Sneha Saha , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 16, 2020 9:25:04 am
Fortnite, Fortnite game, Fortnite mobile game, Epic Games, Epic Games Fortnite, Fortnite Epic Games, Explained Science and Tech, Express Explained, Indian ExpressEpic Games Inc failed again to force Apple Inc. to put Fortnite back in its App Store while the game developer pursues its antitrust claims against the iPhone maker.

Both Apple and Google have removed popular game Fortnite from their app stores over the past day. The move has been trigged by Fortnite developer Epic Games’ update of the app that let users initiate direct in-app purchases. Both Apple and Google take a 30 per cent share from in-app revenue purchases in games and this new update would have bypassed that, a policy violation as per the two tech giants.

Fortnite is a free game, but players are required to pay for various in-app purchases of weapons and skins. Fortnite Battle Royale, the mobile version, gets over 125 million players a year, leading to hundreds of million of dollars in revenues. Overall, according to Sensor Tower, Fortnite has over 350 million players around the world.

But after Apple and Google’s move, the gaming app is no longer available for download on either stores. Apple was the first to take action, followed by Google.

Despite the removal, Fortnite will still be available on Android, but not through the Play store. Google said Android users will be able to install and play Fortnite from other app stores like Epic Games app or Samsung Galaxy Store on Samsung devices.

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In an official statement Google said, “while Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies.” The tech giant said it welcomes the opportunity to continue discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.

For Apple users, there are no such options available to play the game. Commenting on the matter Apple issued a statement. “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.” Apple, however, stated that it will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.

Read | Fortnite tips and tricks to master the gameplay

As a response to the matter, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against both Apple and Google calling their practices anti-competitive. Epic’s lawsuit against Google state, “Epic does not seek monetary compensation from this Court for the injuries it has suffered. Epic likewise does not seek a side deal or favorable treatment from Google for itself. Instead, Epic seeks injunctive relief that would deliver Google’s broken promise: an open, competitive Android ecosystem for all users and industry participants. Such injunctive relief is sorely needed.”

Meanwhile, Epic has released a protest video on YouTube as well as within Fortnite app mocking Apple’s iconic “1984” ad and calling gaming fans to #FreeFortnite by supporting its fight against Apple.

The 30 per cent cut the two tech companies take on the revenues gained on their stores has been a bone of contention with some other apps too. In 2019, Spotify had complained to the European Commission about Apple’s 30% cut. In a blog post, Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek had explained that if they paid this 30%,”it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do”. He claimed that if they chose to opt out of Apple’s payment system, the, Apple “applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify. For example, they limit our communication with our customers—including our outreach beyond the app”.

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