Earlier today Epic Games introduced a new feature in Fortnite. The feature allowed players to purchase V-Bucks with a discount of 20%. Effectively this changed the price of 1,000 V-Bucks from $10 to $8 in a simple update. There seems to be little reason for this change on console or PC, but on Fortnite iOS it’s plain to see. Usually you need to pay for V-Bucks through the Apple App Store, or Google Play Store. However, this update adds a second option that offers the cheaper 20% discount rate, but only if you pay directly with Epic Games.
Currently both Google and Apple take a 30% cut from all purchases on their platforms. This new feature means that Epic Games still earn more money from V-Bucks purchases. But they have dropped the price by almost the entire cut that Apple or Google would take. As you can imagine, this change didn’t go unnoticed.
The first development of the situation came when Apple removed Fortnite iOS from the App Store. It would seem that they are well within their rights to do so. As they put it in a statement, this new feature was updated to the game without Apple’s approval. In fact, they say that the direct purchase option directly violates the store’s rules. While they added that they are willing to work with Epic Games to come to a mutual agreement on the feature, they weren’t willing to simply let this slide.
After Apple’s statement, things got strange. It would seem as though Epic Games expected the removal of Fortnite iOS, because they had a lawsuit ready and waiting to be filed. The developer is now suing Apple over the game’s removal. The crux of the lawsuit actually seems to using Fortnite as a last straw. The lawsuit says that Apple is effectively holding developers hostage because of how integral smartphones are to people’s lives today. They add that taking such a high cut from purchases, when the cut is closer to 3% on developers selling computer software, is egregious. The lawsuit goes on to say that Epic Games isn’t seeking any money from the court. They simply want a new precedent set that is fairer for developers.
To tie things up even more, and further prove that this plan has been in the works for a while, a short film was released in Fortnite.
As you can see, the short film leans heavily on the movie, based on the book, Fahrenheit 1984. It’s almost ridiculous, but it is actually sort of inspiring. Clearly Epic Games wants to change the way Apple chart developers for putting games on their smartphones. It’s something they’ve done previously with the Epic Game Store, though they’re not currently able to offer their own app store unless they launch a new line of smartphones.
Right now players around the world are using #FreeFortnite to pressure Apple into giving in to Epic Games. The game is played by millions of people each day. There are easily enough to apply adequate pressure. The question is, what will happen if Apple refuses to give in and put Fortnite back on the App Store, or offer developers a lower cut?