Thursday morning, Epic Games introduced a new payment mechanism through a server-side update that allowed gamers to purchase Fortnite’s in-game currency directly, allowing the app to bypass Apple’s in-app purchase framework and the substantial cut that Apple takes. Apple quickly acted in banning the app from the App Store.
Apple soon released a statement:
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.
The ban was an action Epic Games was ready for.
The company soon shared that they were taking legal action against Apple, alleging that they were abusing their market position, saying in part that “Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.”
Minutes later, Epic Games broadcast a short video inside Fortnite Party Royale, presenting a spin on Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial. On-screen text declared, “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’. #FreeFortnite”
Any legal action against Apple on monopolistic grounds is going to be an uphill battle given the narrow (relatively speaking) focus of the suit, especially given the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook has already spoken to congressional anti-trust officials who didn’t seem to deliver any knockouts at the recent Zoom hearings. While the legal efforts might be a challenge, Epic Games wields major influence over the 350 million users of Fortnite, and gamers have proven particularly apt at launching campaigns against companies and coming out on top.
This saga comes just days after Apple attracted criticism for denying Microsoft xCloud, a cloud game-streaming application, from the App Store.