Fortnite' Is Kicked Off Apple App Store After Epic Games Moves to Bypass Fee
By Sarah E. Needleman
Apple Inc. removed "Fortnite" from its App Store just hours
after the game's creator unveiled a new payment system that
appeared to violate the technology giant's rules.
Epic Games Inc. on Thursday said it launched its own payment
system in the "Fortnite" app for devices from Apple and Alphabet
Inc.-owned Google, giving players the option to buy digital goods
for up to 20% less than what those companies would charge. The
discount was also available for in-game purchases on gaming
consoles and personal computers. The survival game is free to play
and generates revenue through sales of such items.
In a statement Epic said it was planning legal action in
response to Apple blocking the app on iOS devices.
Apple's App Store, which analysts estimate generates about $15
billion in annual revenue, takes a 30% cut of sales from
developers. It is the only app store available on more than 900
million iPhones world-wide, though the Google Play Store, which
also takes 30% of app sales, has a larger share of the U.S. and
global smartphone market.
Both Apple and Google have faced scrutiny from legislators and
developers over their app store fees. The companies have argued in
defense of their business models, saying the fees are necessary
because of the services the stores provide, including security and
safeguarding user privacy. Apple said last month a study it
commissioned found that the 30% fee was in line with other app
stores and videogame marketplaces.
"Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely,"
Apple said Thursday. "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."
Google didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
With its new payment system for the "Fortnite" app, Epic is
engaging in a high-stakes showdown with the ubiquitous app
marketplaces. Chief Executive Tim Sweeney has been among the
highest-profile critics of the 30% fee.
"They come off the top, before funding any developer costs," Mr.
Sweeney said in a tweet last month. "As a result, Apple and Google
make more profit from most developers' games than the developers
themselves. That is terribly unfair and exploitative."
Originally available only on computers and later consoles,
"Fortnite" surged in users after launching on Apple's App Store in
2018. It debuted on Google's Play store earlier this year after
Epic gave up a yearslong battle with the company to get permission
to include its own payment system inside "Fortnite" -- which is
essentially what Epic is doing now. Previously, "Fortnite" was
available on devices running Google's Android operating system
independent of Google Play.
"Fortnite," which made its debut in 2017, now has more than 350
million registered players, according to closely held Epic.
For the first seven months of 2020, Apple's App Store generated
nearly $39 billion in global revenue from in-app purchases,
subscriptions and premium apps, while Google Play reached almost
$21 billion in revenue, according to research firm Sensor Tower
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 13, 2020 16:35 ET (20:35 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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