Epic Games and Apple have been fighting over Fortnite for nearly a month now, and it’s already apparent that public reputation will play a bigger role in this than usual. As a result, both companies are keenly interested in controlling the narrative in a way that presents themselves in a positive light, and their opponent in a negative light. However, it would appear that Apple has been a little inconsistent already.
Why Apple says it banned Fortnite
Apple claims that the reason behind Fortnite being banned from the Apple App Store has to do with the newly implemented feature which allowed Fortnite players to purchase in-game currency directly from Epic Games, bypassing needing to go through the App Store altogether.
To further incentivize Fortnite players to choose the direct payment option, Epic offered a 20% discount, effectively passing along the savings made to the customer. This allowed players to visualize how much Apple takes as a cut from companies that do business with them, but more importantly, it affected Apple’s bottom line.
Apple then said that the direct payment option was against Apple’s terms of service and used it as justification for removing Fortnite from the App Store altogether, or so the story goes.
Does Apple’s narrative hold up?
Apple’s account of the events would have us believe that Apple simply does not allow anyone to bypass them. If the App Store is Apple’s gated community, then Apple simply requires everyone pay their toll as part of having access, a reasonable, albeit somewhat greedy, approach to doing business.
The problem comes when Apple seems to enforce that policy haphazardly. Apparently, so long as the app in question isn’t Fortnite or some other multibillion dollar enterprise, then alternate payment methods are no big deal. As revealed through the screen grabs posted by @YangCLiu, the Skillz apps accept payment through PayPal or even through direct payment via credit card, the same kind of system that supposedly got Fortnite banned.
Perhaps the only difference in the situation is that the Skillz app doesn’t offer any kind of noticeable discount to encourage players to choose one type over another, however the act of circumventing Apple’s cut is still there.
So it would be fair to say that the real problem is not that Fortnite implemented a feature already present in other apps, but that Epic did so in an antagonistic way and brought attention to it. Apple isn’t simply enforcing its rules in an even handed manner, they’re defending their ego and insulted that anyone, even Epic, would challenge their authority.Published 11 Sep 2020, 21:32 IST