Epic Games has entered into uncharted territory.
Fortnite and Epic Games have had quite the day. On Thursday, the developer decided to allow Android and iOS users to pay it directly when buying V-Bucks, effectively circumventing Apple and Google’s 30% cut on transactions.
Just a few hours after Epic direct was implemented, Apple pulled Fortnite off the App Store. Seemingly expecting this reaction, Epic quickly retaliated, filing a lawsuit against Apple. Epic also hosted a parody of Apple’s 1984 ad, dubbed Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite, at the in-game theatre and on YouTube.
In the hours since, the developer has been rallying support from fans under the Twitter hashtag #FreeFortnite.
Then, Google, too, decided to remove Fortnite from the Play Store. The move has been acknowledged by Epic, and the company has reportedly also filed legal papers against Google. The only difference in this case, is that Android players could still download Fortnite through the Epic Games app, or the Samsung Galaxy Store. The Fortnite .APK file also remains, as ever, available to download.
Because iOS is a much less strict ecosystem, it is currently impossible for new players to download Fortnite, as the App Store is the only way non-jailbroken iPhones and iPads could install apps. With that said, players who already have the game installed on iOS could still play, but they won’t receive the upcoming Chapter 2 Season 4 content, including the Battle Pass.
As for the lawsuit, according to the legal filings [PDF], Epic isn’t interested in cutting a deal or getting compensation for this disruption. Instead, the developer is hoping to set a precedent in court that Apple’s App Store policies constitute a monopoly, which opens it up to all sorts of antitrust investigations in the US.
Indeed, Apple is already dealing with a similar investigation right now. In fact, Epic’s timing here is not an accident, and could end up changing the way platform holders run their businesses forever. It’s also worth keeping in mind that while Epic is happy to put up with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo’s similar 30% cut, it may not have to for long.