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Monday, November 30, 2020

Fortnite controversies timeline: All the news about the world’s most popular video game

Here's a look at the timeline of everything that has happened with Fortnite ever since the company decided to enable its own payments gateway inside of Fortnite.

Written by Karanveer Singh Arora | New Delhi | Updated: October 26, 2020 6:43:54 pm
Fortnite, Fortnite vs Apple, Fortnite vs Apple timeline, Fortnite timeline, Fortnite ban, Fortnite Apple App Store, Fortnite vs Google, Fortnite Google, Fortnite payments, Fortnite V-bucks, Fortnite banned iOS, Fortnite vs Apple case, Apple Fortnite countersuitHere's a look at everything that has transpired in the Epic Games vs Apple case over in-app payments. (Express Photo)

One of Epic Games’ flagship video game, Fortnite has been absent from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store for some time now. All of this started when Epic Games implemented its own payments system for in-app payments and both Apple and Google removed it from their respective app stores, due to it bypassing their payment gateways, hence bypassing the need to pay these companies the fees that they charge for in-app payments from the developers.

Due to this, Apple iPhone, iPad, Mac users do not have access to the game at all. Whereas, Android smartphone/tablet users can download the game using the Epic Download Manager from the Epic Games’ website. The game is also not available in the Google Play Store. Here’s a look at the timeline of everything that has happened with Fortnite ever since the company decided to enable its own payments gateway inside of the game.

Epic Games introduces its own direct payment option

On August 13, Epic Games introduced its own payment option for Fortnite on iOS, iPadOS and Android. The option allowed players to purchase the in-game currency at a 20 per cent discount. This was a violation of both Apple’s and Google’s app store policies. The company stated that both of these companies charge an “exorbitant” 30 per cent fee from developers for in-app purchases. It also stated that the fee is not applicable to real-life goods and services like Uber, DoorDash and more, as they are not required to use Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism.

Apple and Google remove Fortnite

That was the same day when Apple decided to remove the game for violating its App Store guidelines. Due to which, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple, stating that the company has monopolistic power in the market. Just after filing the case, Epic Games encouraged its players to help it in the fight by tweeting against Apple using the hashtag #FreeFortnite.

After all of this, Google also removed the game from its platform. After which, Epic filed a similar anti-competitive lawsuit against Google.

On August 14, Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, stated that they are fighting for the freedom of people who bought smartphones and for the freedom for creators of apps.

Apple to terminate Epic Games developer account

On August 17, Epic Games revealed that Apple has intimated that it will be terminating Epic’s Apple Developer Program account on August 28, until the company resolves violations of the Developer Program License Agreement. This includes the introduction of the new payment functionality that was not submitted to or reviewed by Apple’s App Review team. This would mean that Epic Games would lose access to all of Apple’s software, SDKs, APIs and developer tools. To which Epic replied by stating that this will not allow them to continue development of the future versions of its Unreal Engine game engine for use on iOS or macOS.

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Epic Games asks for a special deal

Apple in a court filing stated that Epic Games in an email to the company asked for a “special deal” to sidestep the in-app purchase mechanism, but Apple did not approve, comparing it to shoplifting. Stating that “If developers can avoid the digital checkout, it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid.”

Epic Games defends its Developer Program membership

In another court filing on August 23, Epic Games stated that Apple’s plan to terminate its Developer Program membership would be an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly. In support of which Microsoft filed a declaration stating that “Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.”

Keeping all of this in mind, US Judge, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on August 24 granted a temporary restraining order preventing Apple from blocking Epic Games’ access to development tools for its Unreal Engine. However, she did not force the company to put Fortnite back on the App Store. This restraining order will remain in force until the court issues a final order on the motion for preliminary injunction.

Apple issues statement

Apple after the ruling, on August 25 disemmintated the statement in which it said, “We thank the court for recognizing that Epic’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and is in their power to resolve. Our very first priority is making sure App Store users have a great experience in a safe and trusted environment, including iPhone users who play Fortnite and who are looking forward to the game’s next season. We agree with Judge Gonzalez-Rogers that ‘the sensible way to proceed’ is for Epic to comply with the ‌App Store‌ guidelines and continue to operate while the case proceeds. If Epic takes the steps the judge has recommended, we will gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS. We look forward to making our case to the court in September.”

Fortinite’s latest season not coming to Apple devices

Epic Games after Apple’s statement announced that the latest season of Fortnite will not be made available on iPhone, iPad and Mac. To which players took to social media to show their disapproval. In an answer to all the players, Epic Games sent a public email stating that this is because of Apple’s block on the game and that it limits competition so they can collect 30 per cent of consumer payments made in apps, raising the prices customers pay.

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Fortnite’s developer account terminated

As per Apple’s warning, Epic Games’ developer account tied to Fortnite got terminated on August 28, following which on September 4, Epic Games filed for a preliminary injunction  to allow Fortnite back on the App Store, with the restored developer account.

This injunction was denied by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on October 9, which means that the game will remain unavailable on the App Store.

Apple goes on the offensive

Apple on September 8 had, had enough and filed a countersuit against Epic Games, requesting damages for breach of contract.

Sign in with Apple

Epic Games on September 9, Epic Games on September 9 said that Apple will now no longer allow its users to sign into Epic Games accounts using “Sign in with Apple” option from September 11. But Apple gave Epic an indefinite extension for the same on the next day.

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Trial is near

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers suggested that Apple and Epic Games should take up a jury trial around July 2021. To which both the companies decided on going against and ask for a bench trial, rather than a jury trial.

Epic Games states Apple has no right to share in Fortnite

Epic in a new filing stated that the allegations “are a far cry from the tortious even purportedly criminal conduct that Apple’s Opposition depicts.” “Simply put, Epic did not steal anything that belonged to Apple,” it added.

“Apple’s repeated assertions of theft boil down to the extraordinary assertion that Epic’s collection of payments by players of Epic’s game to enjoy the work of Epic’s artists, designers, and engineers is the taking of something that belongs to Apple,” it added in the same filing.

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