Image Source: appleinsider.com
Fortnite. A game we’ve all heard of. A game some hate, and some enjoy. Epic Games has included many pop culture references in the game, like TikTok dances and movie character skins such as Harley Quinn. There’s now an entire season based on the Marvel movie characters. It’s definitely a popular game that has grabbed the attention of many and has over 250 million registered accounts.
So why has Fortnite been removed from the Apple Store, making it unavailable to download on iOS?
The timeline leading up to Fortnite’s removal began in June 2016, when Apple slightly changed its App Store rules to lower its cut on subscription apps from 30 percent to 15 percent. This didn’t seem like too big of a deal to other companies.
On January 17, 2020, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing in Colorado focused on how bigger tech companies treat smaller ones. Theverge.com reported that companies like Sonos, PopSockets, Basecamp, and Tile all spoke out about having been kicked around by Apple in a variety of ways many times before.
On June 16, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney told the Washington Post that “the iOS App Store’s monopoly protects only Apple profit, not device security.” Saying something like this would obviously put some unwanted tension between Sweeney and Apple.
Sweeney continued to bash the App Store through various tweets and interviews during the month of June, telling CNBC that the store is an “absolute monopoly” and tweeting “opening iOS and Android up as truly open platforms with a genuinely level playing field between first party and third party apps and stores is the only way to ensure a competitive, healthy, and fair app economy.”
Macrumors.com reported that on August 13, Epic Games introduced a direct payment option in the Fortnite app for iPhone and iPad, which allowed players to purchase in-game V-bucks (Fortnite coins to buy skins, emotes, and more fun things) at a 20 percent discount. By doing this, Epic Games sidestepped Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism, meaning they violated the App Store Review Guidelines, which state that apps offering in-game currency have to use Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism only. As if Epic wasn’t in enough trouble already, they also added the direct payment option to Fortnite on Android, violating Google’s Play Store rules.
That same day, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store. The company shared with MacRumors that “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.”
Epic Games then filed a lawsuit against Apple in California. They described the company as a “monopoly power” and claimed that Apple was guilty of “unfair and anti-competitive actions.”
Epic Games created and shared a parody video called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a replica of Apple’s “1984” ad, which you can find on YouTube. Instead of portraying IBM as the evil man on the screen, Epic Games shows an evil Apple symbol (the apple with a bite taken out of it). The video quotes, “Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming ‘1984.’”
Multiple different apps took different sides. Spotify sided with Epic Games, and Google removed Fortnite from the Play Store. This caused Epic Games to file a lawsuit against Google, as well.
A messy, back-and-forth legal battle between Epic, Apple, and Google has been going on since August 13. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon. Now, Fortnite players have the opportunity to choose whose side they are on. Who do they believe is in the right? A large company that has been accused multiple times of walking all over smaller ones, or a gaming company that has continued to bash Apple and deliberately broke the rules? Fortnite players who choose to side with Epic Games can join the fight with #FreeFortnite.