Epic’s current change to V-Bucks purchases could be to blame
On Thursday, Apple eliminated Fortnite from its App Store. This move appears to be in response to Epic’s current decision to allow gamers directly buy V-Bucks at Fortnite, circumventing Apple’s monthly payment processing and its 30% cut.
The studio reduced the price of V-Bucks on all platforms by 20 percent, using mobile players only getting the reduction should they select the brand new”Epic direct purchase” option in checkout. Epic stated the new price program is permanent.
The shift in payment choices appeared to be a direct challenge to Apple’s App Shop review guidelines, which says that all in-app purchases should undergo Apple’s paychecks mechanics:
If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, (by way of example: subscriptions, in-game currencies, game levels, access to premium content, or unlocking a full version), you must use in-app purchase. Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality markers, QR codes, etc. Apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.
In an Epic FAQ for the price drop, the company seemed to reject this thought — especially talking about buy safety — citing real-world cases for example like Amazon:
Thousands of apps on the App Store approved by Apple accept direct payments, including commonly used apps like Amazon, Grubhub, Nike SNKRS, Best Buy, DoorDash, Fandango, McDonalds, Uber, Lyft, and StubHub. We think all developers should be free to support direct payments in all apps. In operating Fortnite on open platforms and operating the Epic Games Store, Epic has processed over $1,600,000,000 of direct payments successfully, and uses industry trusted encryption and security measures to protect customer transactions.
Epic’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, has additionally been very vocal about Apple’s fees within the past few decades.
It’s currently unclear when or if Fortnite will return into Apple’s App Store.
Update: In a statement sent to The Verge, Apple said it plans to help Epic return Fortnite to the App Store if and when it removes the Epic direct purchase option. The Apple spokesperson told The Verge it will not offer a special arrangement for Epic.
Here’s the full quote from The Verge:
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 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.
Epic sent Polygon an excerpt from its recently filed legal documents, suing Apple over Fortnite’s removal:
Rather than tolerate this healthy competition and compete on the merits of its offering, Apple responded by removing Fortnite from sale on the App Store, which means that new users cannot download the app, and users who have already downloaded prior versions of the app from the App Store cannot update it to the latest version. This also means that Fortnite players who downloaded their app from the App Store will not receive updates to Fortnite through the App Store, either automatically or by searching the App Store for the update. 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.
Update 2 (6:58 p.m. EDT): Fortnite has now been removed from the Google Play Store, as well. Google detailed the removal, citing similar reasons as Apple:
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. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.
The story and headline has been updated with information about Fortnite’s removal from the Google Play Store.