Epic Games did something strange earlier today when it started offering a way for Fortnite players to buy V-bucks from within the game, but without using Apple’s in-app purchase system. At the time, it seemed weird and sure enough, Apple thought so, too.
Fortnite has now been removed from the App Store.
Apple released a statement to the media which says exactly what you’d expect it to say. Epic Games is no different from other developers and by bypassing the App Store’s payment system, it breaks developer guidelines. So it’s gone.
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.
Not only were Epic Games giving users a chance to buy V-bucks direct, but it was also incentivising them to do it. Buying straight from Epic Games meant gamers saved 20%. Buying from Apple, not so much.
Where this now goes is anyone’s guess. Epic Games was clearly trying to pull the wool over Apple’s eyes by making the change at the server level, without the need for an app update to go through the usual App Store approval process. Apple was always going to find out, of course, but it made the company make a decision.
At a time where Apple is being pushed on antitrust grounds, the decision to pull Fortnite from the App Store over payment grounds only helps make the argument that the App Store is a monopoly.
Interesting times ahead!
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