What is the beef with Fortnite, Apple and Google?

In August 2020, Fortnite was removed from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store in a move that surprised millions of gamers around the world.

The removal of the app from these two marketplaces meant that the game couldn’t be downloaded and installed by new users on their iPhones or Android devices. People who currently had the app downloaded to their phone could still play it, but they wouldn’t be able to receive updates from developer Epic.

But how did the world’s most popular game arrive at such an impasse with two of the biggest tech companies?

Contention over in-app purchases

The contention started following an update which allowed Fortnite players to buy in-game currency at a lower rate if they bought directly from Epic, essentially encouraging users to bypass Apple and Google. The discount effectively worked out at a 20% saving for people buying directly from the developer. Both app stores saw this as a violation of their rules so made the game unavailable to new players.

Why was this such a big deal? Well both Apple and Google require – as part of their terms to apps being sold on their marketplaces – for in-app content to be processed by their internal billing systems. Both of the tech giants take a 30% cut of purchases made within apps in both stores.

Can I still play Fortnite on my iPhone or Android device?

Well, yes and no. As mentioned above, if you already have the app, you can continue to play it – just without being able to enjoy new updates. If you are an Android user, you aren’t bound to using the Google Play Store to get hold of new apps. You can therefore directly download Fortnite from a third party source like the Epic Games app or on Epic’s website. Sadly this is not the case for iPhone users who don’t already have the game – as the App Store is currently the only official route to downloading apps on Apple devices.

Will this be resolved soon?

In truth, it’s hard to say. The founder of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, has repeatedly expressed frustration at what he views as Apple and Google’s monopolies on the marketplaces for their respective operating systems. Following this latest move, Epic is now suing Google and Apple over the removal of Fortnite from both marketplaces. All in all, it feels like this is a flash point in a long bubbling dispute.

The problem for Epic and Fortnite is that Apple’s ringfencing of its App Store means that it is currently being prevented from reaching thousands of potential new gamers on their iPhone devices. On the other side of the coin, Fortnite’s immense popularity – and increasingly so on mobile – is a powerful thing for mobile manufacturers to tap into as a way to hold onto and grow their userbase.

What do you think about the dispute? Who is in the right, and who is in the wrong? Interested to find out more about mobile gaming and Fortnite, then check out the links below: