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Fortnite App Store Removal refers to a legal case between video game developer and publisher Epic Games and technology company Apple which followed Epic Games bypassing App Store's fee system to enable direct in-app purchases in the mobile version of its video game Fortnite. Apple reacted to Epic Games' actions by removing Fortnite from the App Store, with Google also removing the game from Google Play, and the hashtag #FreeFortnite going viral on social media.
On August 13th, 2020, Epic Games presented a permanent discount on V-bucks and other cash purchases in its popular battle royale video game Fortnite. In iOS and Android versions of the game, Epic Games introduced a new direct payment option that bypassed App Store's and Google Play store's payment systems and allowed Epic Games not to pay Apple and Google a 30 percent fee. In the blog post about the discount, Epic Games commented that if Apple or Google should lower their fees in the future, Epic Games would pass along the savings to the players.
Today, we’re also introducing a new way to pay on iOS and Android: Epic direct payment. When you choose to use Epic direct payments, you save up to 20% as Epic passes along payment processing savings to you.
Currently, when using Apple and Google payment options, Apple and Google collect a 30% fee, and the up to 20% price drop does not apply. If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.
Later on the same day, Apple reacted to the move by removing Fortnite from the App Store. On the same day, the company released a statement to 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 its 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.
Later on August 13th, Google removed Fortnite from its Google Play store.
Following the app being removed from App Store, Epic Games uploaded a short animated film parodying the 1984-inspired Apple Macintosh commercial imagining the Apple logo as the Big Brother, with a Fortnite character breaking the screen with a Rainbow Smash Pickaxe. The video (shown below) received over 1.9 million views on YouTube in one day. On Twitter, the video received over 24,600 retweets and 86,700 likes. The message was also being broadcasted on a large screen on public servers in Fortnite.
Also on the same day, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple the US District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking to establish Apple's App Store as a monopoly. Epic Games posted a blog post about the removal and the filing, launching #FreeFortnite hashtag.
On August 17th, Epic Games tweeted that that Apple has threatened to revoke Epic Games' developer account on August 28th, meaning that Epic Games will no longer be able to make games for the App Store and Mac, and also affecting Epic Games' ability to support Unreal Engine offers to third-party fevopers.
It told Epic that by August 28, Apple will cut off Epic’s access to all development tools necessary to create software for Apple’s platforms--including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple has never claimed violated any Apple policy.
On the same day, multiple users on Twitter posted their reactions to the removal of the game, with the hashtag #freefortnite reaching top worldwide trends on the platform between 4 pm EST and 11 pm EST on August 13th, with over 163,000 tweets with that hashtag made during that period (examples shown below).