Fortnite is one of the most popular video games on the planet, compatible with computers, gaming consoles, tablets and mobile devices. But as of Thursday 13 August, it’s no longer available for download on iOS via the Appstore and the Google Play store on Android respectively.
One would imagine how things got so drastic that a popular gaming app found itself in the crosshairs of two big tech companies, and why the two decided to take action against Epic Games’ Fortnite in what some saw as a move by the so-called ‘evil corporate’ companies of today.
Well, to fully to understand what happened, we are going to give you a rundown of the short version in just a couple minutes so that you know what we know.
What Happened, and Why Was Fortnite Removed from the World’s Two Most Popular App Stores?
Epic Games, which is the creator of Fortnite implemented a direct in-app payment option that by-passed the standard 30 per cent fee on both Android and iOS stores. In response, Apple took it down from its Appstore.
Google took a similar action saying that “while Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on the play store because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic Games and bring Fortnite back to Google Play”
Initially, Epic willingly agreed to the terms and guidelines of these stores while launching their game on Android and iOS in 2018. Now with over 129 million registered users on only the Appstore and Play Store combined, the company described Apple and Google’s 30 per cent cut on in-app purchases as “exorbitant” after comparing itself to apps like Uber and DoorDash that are not required to use Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism.
Lawsuits were filed by Epic Games against Apple and Google for “unfair and anticompetitive actions”. The company insists it is not seeking monetary compensations nor is it seeking favourable treatment for itself instead it is seeking injunctive relief to allow fair competition in these two key markets.
Apple informed Epic Games that its developer program account would be terminated on August 28, 2020, unless it resolves the violations of the developer program licence agreement, including introducing new payment functionality that was not submitted to or reviewed by Apple’s app review team.
Without support from Apple, Epic Games has warned that it might not release Chapter 2 season 4 for iOS. The game developer also released a commercial that depicts Apple as the bad guy on 13 August 2020 as a form of retaliation for blocking Fortnite from a billion devices.
Watch the famous anti-Apple 1984 commercial by Fortnite
NO ONE IS THE GOOD GUY
Alex Hern from The Guardian pointed out that one reason he thinks Epic has a really good case is that they pass the discount on to consumers. American monopoly laws don’t focus on cost to consumer and Epic can now point to a case where the consumer is paying more.
Developers on both Android and iOS are not given the freedom to implement their own in-app payment mechanisms. This means they lose 30 per cent per transaction.
These platforms can choose to sabotage rival applications like Spotify which is rivalling Apple Music but still loses 30 per cent of its monthly subscription from users to Apple. They are funding their rivals. In this context, Apple and Google are the bad guys.
On the other hand, these platforms have helped Fortnite become more popular. According to SensorTower, the app has over 129 million downloads on both iOS and Android and has collected up to $1 billion in mobile app revenue in two years.
One would say Epic Games is ungrateful and is only making a big fuss about the 30 per cent discount because it has realised Apple and Google get a lot from each transaction they make. Think about it, Epic is offering 1000V bucks at a 20 per cent less now. This leaves a 10 per cent profit for them from the 30 per cent Google or Apple was taking.
Furthermore, Epic in a very savage way is waging this war more in the court of public opinion as much as they are in a court of law. Apple and Google stand to lose more in brand equity. In this context, Epic is the bad guy.
THIS WOULD SETTLE THE PROBLEM
Whatever disputes are there between these companies; they can be solved before they escalate into something worse and this is how;
- The 30 per cent cut taken by Google or Apple should be reduced to at least 10 per cent to encourage developers to upload more apps to the store. This can also reduce the cost incurred by the final user to pay for services on apps.
- Apple should be transparent with developers about the criteria determined when reviewing their apps and it should not take long.
The tech world will become a jungle without the verification and reviewing done by Apple and Google on apps. We are living in a world where almost everyone is bound to use a smartphone. Weakening these companies will disorganise carefully built ecosystems and give chance to hackers and other online criminals.
Author: Solomon Mugisha
A Software Engineering student and tech enthusiast, Solomon Mugisha is an avid writer with a strong passion for technology. If he ain’t programming something, is definitely writing it down which is why he is known for his catchphrase: “if you can’t write programs, write files”.