Fortnite has been removed from the App Store, and now Epic Games is suing Apple

In what can only be described as a shocking, and yet probably still inevitable move, Apple has decided to remove the mega-popular battle royale game Fortnite from the App Store.

Update #3 (08/13/2020)Google has followed suit and pulled Fortnite from the Play Store, which means Fortnite is not downloadable right now from Google’s official digital storefront. However, unlike iOS devices, Android users can still download the game from Epic’s website directly.

Update #2 (08/13/2020)Fortnite has released the “ad” riffing on Apple’s original 1984 ad, asking people to make sure 2020 doesn’t become the new “1984” in its fight against the “App Store Monopoly”. Check out the video below.

Update #1 (08/13/2020)Apple’s not getting out of this without some legal issues, it seems. Epic Games has tweeted out today a confirmation that the company has filed legal papers against Apple in light of its decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store. You can read the full legal document if you’re curious, which is a complaint for injunctive relief as Epic Games sues Apple. Epic is leaning into the anticompetitive tactics in the legal papers.

Here’s Epic Games’ tweet:

The original article continues below.

Following Epic Games’ decision to add direct payments to the iOS game Fortnite, following in lockstep to the other versions of the game on platforms like Xbox One and PC, Apple has made a decision of its own: to remove the game from the App Store. Apple also provided a statement on the matter to The Verge, saying that Epic Games decided to violate the App Store rules, and, as a result, Fortnite was pulled from the digital storefront:

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.

It was not known at the time if Epic Games had pulled a special permission from Apple, but, it’s worth noting that Epic Games had also called out Apple and Google for “exorbitant” fees related to in-app purchases. And for those interested, here’s the App Store rule in violation here:

3.1.1 In-App Purchase:

  • 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.

Epic Games is not going out without a fight, nor is it staying silent on the matter, either. In response to the removal of Fornite from the App Store, and in response to Apple’s comment on the matter, the developer sent out this tweet:

That’s an obvious play on Apple’s original 1984 ad, so it’s noteworthy for that all by itself. But, it will also be worth seeing what Epic Games has to add on the matter at hand.

Keep in mind that Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, has gone on the record saying he very much wants to bring the Epic Games Store –Epic’s own digital storefront– to iOS devices.

What do you think? Is Apple in the wrong here? Or is Epic Games trying too hard to cause a stir?