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Fortnite Declares War on Silicon Valley – And Vows a ‘Hell of a Fight’

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:24 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:24 PM
  • That battle is on after Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their respective mobile marketplaces.
  • Epic Games fired the first shot by instating a new in-game currency price drop for purchases made directly with Epic.
  • CEO Tim Sweeney promises a “hell of a fight” as the company aims to secure changes that benefit all developers.

Epic Games is gearing up for a “hell of a fight” against Google and Apple after the two Silicon Valley giants removed Fortnite from their respective app stores.

The three companies have been knee-deep in a series of retaliatory tit for tat exchanges over the last 24 hours. Epic Games fired the first shot by unveiling the “Fortnite Mega Drop”  – a permanent 20% discount for players who purchase V-Bucks directly from the game’s developer.

Epic Games
Epic enables an in-app feature to circumvent store pay mechanisms and the 30% cut. | Source: Epic Games 

Epic Says Apple & Google Got Greedy

For mobile users, the discount is only applicable for V-Bucks purchased directly from Epic Games via a new checkout option dubbed “Epic direct purchase.”

This checkout option allows Epic to sidestep the 30% commission sent to Google and Apple when users make in-app purchases through their respective store pay mechanisms.

This cut has long been a bone of contention for Epic and its CEO, Tim Sweeney. He’s made no qualms about his disdain for Apple  and Google’s “anti-competitive” restrictions on their mobile device marketplaces.

Both Apple and Google require developers to channel payments through these mechanisms. While Apple claims the stipulation is to ensure the security of transactions, it has direct payment arrangements with large companies such as Amazon, Best Buy, and McDonald’s.

In a press release accompanying the V-Bucks discount announcement , Epic notes:

Thousands of apps on the App Store are allowed by Apple to accept direct payments, including commonly used apps like Amazon, Grubhub, Nike SNKRS, Best Buy, DoorDash, Fandango, McDonalds, and StubHub. Apple is just blocking direct payments for certain products (like games) and companies (like Epic).

Under the guise of a violation of its App Store Review Guidelines , Apple subsequently blocked Fortnite from the App Store. Players can no longer install or update the game.

In a statement, Apple justified the decision:

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.

‘Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite’

Epic retorted with a video, dubbed “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite.” More than just an allusion to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, it parodies an iconic Apple advertisement .

The intent is clear: Epic says developers and players alike suffer under the fetters of an oppressive totalitarian overlord. Only this time, Apple is “Big Brother.”

Video: Epic Games torches Apple with a parody of the iconic “1984” commercial.

Epic’s response didn’t stop there.

The $17 billion video game giant  announced it’s taking legal action  against $1.95 trillion tech leviathan Apple. You can review the legal documents here .

None of this deterred Google, which axed Fortnite from the Google Play Store soon after. Their justification echoed Apple’s statement :

The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies.

Epic Games Is Up for a Fight

Using #FreeFortnite as a rallying call , Epic Games is leveraging the might of the vast Fortnite player base to fight back.

Rather shrewdly, Epic is framing the discount as something that will ultimately benefit players. Epic says that if Apple and Google lower their fees, it will pass on the savings to gamers. The company is gifting a free in-game pickaxe skin to all users to mark the occasion.

Epic Games
Epic promises a “hell of a fight.” | Source: Twitter 

The legal action could have wide-reaching repercussions on how platform holders distribute apps and manage in-app purchases.

It comes at a rather unfortunate time for Apple, with rumblings of an antitrust probe from the Justice Department . The timing might not be a coincidence.

Whatever the outcome, Epic is seemingly in for the long haul. Fortnite’s unmatched popularity guarantees the company can survive just fine without being featured on mobile marketplaces.

Epic’s CEO took to Twitter in the heat of the feud to say that the company is fighting for changes that benefit all developers . He warns that Silicon Valley’s Goliaths should expect “a hell of a fight.”