Fortnite is currently one of the most popular games around, and it's widely available on almost any platform. Whether you play on PC, console, or through a smart device, Epic has almost certainly created some version of Fortnite for you to enjoy. However, as of today, that no longer includes Apple’s devices.
Tim Sweeney pushes back against App Store fees
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has already talked at length about the iron grip big Silicon Valley tech companies have over the markets on their platforms, levying special criticism against Apple for their policy of demanding an extremely high degree of control over products sold through their store.
At present, Apple demands fees as high as 30% of the revenue generated by a product just for the privilege to sell on their store. It’s been pointed out that, in some extreme cases, Apple can make more money off of a product than that product’s creator due to these high fees.
Because Apple does not allow for other app markets on their platform, creators interested in making products for iOS have no choice but to acquiesce to these big companies.
Recently, it appears Sweeney has decided to put his money where his mouth is, as Fortnite has recently implemented an in-app payment process that bypasses Apple’s App store and its 30% fee for in-game purchases.
Apple, in retaliation, has decided to remove Fortnite from its App Store as these two giants fight for power over where and how products can be sold.
Apple’s response to Fortnite
In a statement on the removal of Fortnite Apple had the following to say:
“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 it’s [sic] 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.”
Apple fights back against monopoly accusations
This latest confrontation comes in the midst of Apple, alongside Google, Facebook, and Amazon, being accused of functioning as practical monopolies, and using business practices which limit competition and stifle innovation.
Apple in particular has been accused of using rent-seeking behavior, or the process of extracting a profit from a product to which you have not added any value, to make exorbitant profits to the detriment of entrepreneurs, including Fortnite.
It is hard to argue against those claims, as there doesn’t seem to be a good reason why an innovator would willfully agree to such a high fee that often results in Apple making more money off of their work than the creator themselves. For many, there is no alternative.
In a fair and competitive environment, Apple would never be able to demand such high fees and be taken seriously, something which Sweeney seems to be fighting against. Hopefully Fortnite fans won’t have to wait too long before the dust settles and they can find their game once again available on iOS products,
Fortnite files legal action against Apple
Epic Games' response to Apple's Fortnite removal came just moments after the deed happened, as the company filed legal action against Apple, which can be read here. Now all that’s left is to wait for a verdict.