Fortnite is a game I haven’t played for about a year but have admired from afar. They continue to do really interesting, innovative things with their platform, constantly updating it. Now you can watch movies in the game, apparently? That’s a thing? That’s wild and I love that.
But another important Fortnite staple we’re all aware of is the humble Vbuck. Vbucks? Do you still call them that if there’s only one? Regardless, Apple, Samsung and Google have all pulled the sensation from their store over Fortnite’s latest update, which allows users to purchase said Vbucks directly through Epic, instead of having to go through Apple or Google’s in-app billing system.
Both in-app billing systems take a 30 percent cut of the profits, and Epic has justified their reasoning saying direct payments will save users money on their various cosmetics and funny dances. At this stage, Fortnite is still playable on Android devices if players already have it downloaded, or manage to find a dodgy .apk online somewhere (please don’t do this you absolutely will get a virus).
Both tech giants have released statements on the issue:
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.
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 its 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.
So, as you can see, both of these companies are just a little bit unimpressed. But where this really gets spicy is Epic’s rebuttal. For reference, here’s Apple’s original “1984” commercial:
And here’s what Epic used to take a bit of a dig at Apple over being removed from the app store:
So, like I said, spicy. They’re really not holding their punches. And considering this came out immediately following the announcement of Fortnite’s removal, they’ve had this up their sleeve for a while. Though it’s yet to be seen if they have some spice for Google, too.
Originally, Epic was singing the praises of the Samsung Galaxy store in their post explaining Vbucks, what they cost, and how the profits are divided. Although, as stated previously, even Samsung has removed them now.
So what next? Will Epic just go and make their own darn app store? Will the various tech giants fold and change their practices? This is a heck of a situation for all sides, and it looks like no one is going to budge.
Legal Battle Update
Listen, we all knew it wasn’t going to end at two multi-billion dollar companies mobilising their fans to action. This was always going to go to the courts, and I regret to inform all of you, this just became so spicy that the spice has overflowed to the rest of us in what could be the worst way possible and now we’re all stuck on the metaphorical toilet.
Epic has thrown the first stone, leading court action against Apple to allow Fortnite to stay on the store, explaining that it’s unfair to players to have access and updates blocked, meaning they won’t be able to play with others.
In turn, Apple has held nothing back and threatened to remove Epic’s developer tools and accounts from all Apple services as of August 28. “Why is that my problem?” you ask, “I don’t play Fortnite or use Epic’s launcher!”
Well. Let me put it this way.
Epic makes the Unreal engine. Lots and lots of games use the Unreal engine. Film and TV uses the Unreal engine. Medical imaging even uses it sometimes.
So imagine all of that now impossible to develop on Apple platforms. Everything from the more obvious PUBG, to huge hit TV shows like The Mandalorian, would no longer be able to be developed and, in the case of software and games, even used on Apple platforms.
So, in other words, everyone loses. And the escalation probably wasn’t helped by Fortnite really taking the effort to goad Apple into action, as it’s interesting to note nothing like this has been done for Google and Samsung, who have also pulled the game from their stores.
As you can imagine, Epic is petitioning pretty hard and trying to rile their fanbase up even more to oppose this, but, well. We’ll see. If nothing else, this incredibly public spat has turned from ‘hilarious and interesting because I do not care for Fortnite or Apple’ to ‘oh no, this is super bad, actually’.