It’s been a pretty exciting last two days for players of the popular Fortnite video game and app developers in general. Quite a bit has happened so here’s an easy-to-follow timeline of the events.
- On August 13th, Epic Games added direct payment options to both the iOS and Google Play Android versions of the Fortnite video game apps. These options displayed within the apps alongside the traditional app store payment system with prominent text promoting up to 20% discounts on all purchases made via the new system.
- By August 14th, these new discounted prices had become the default prices within the Fortnite video game on Microsoft’s family of Xbox One consoles, Sony’s PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch… Essentially every version of the game that didn’t use an app store like Apple’s and Google’s that took around 30% of each purchase from the devs.
- Within a matter of hours, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store on all iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.
- Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, responded with a video parodying Apple’s 1984 Mac commercial, a call to arms for players to pressure Apple by using the #FreeFortnite hashtag on social media, and the announcement of their intentions to sue the tech giant.
- The #FreeFortnite video begins playing when any version of Fortnite is opened. The video has also begun playing within the Fortnite Party Royale virtual space and is running on a loop on the official Fortnite Twitter and Twitch accounts.
- Soon after, Google also removed Fortnite from their Google Play app store. Players are still able to use the Android version of Fortnite that can be installed outside of the Google Play store however.
- Epic Games almost immediately responds by announcing that they’ll sue Google as well.
It’s clear that Epic Games was completely prepared for both Apple and Google’s responses as it’s doubtful that they could have produced that video and drawn up public statements as quickly as they did.
The timing is also rather deliberate as the game’s current Chapter 2 Season 3 is drawing to a close in just a week or so from now on August 27th. If Apple and Google don’t reinstate Fortnite in their respective app stores, those versions of the game won’t be able to receive the content update for Chapter 2 Season 4 and the two companies could very well be dealing with a massive pushback from users.
Epic Games’ founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney, posted on his Twitter account that his company’s actions are not to get more money but to force Apple and Google to consider better policies for app developers and consumers.
“Today, Apple said Epic is seeking a special deal, but that's not true,” Sweeney’s tweet reads. “We're fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it'll be a hell of a fight!”
Currently both Apple and Google take a 30% cut of all sales made from apps downloaded from their app stores. While exact details of Fortnite in-app purchases on mobile are unknown, the game did earn Epic Games $1.8 billion in 2019 across all of its available platforms. With well over 125 million iOS users having downloaded the game to date, it’s safe to assume that Apple and Google have both been making a lot of money from the free-to-play Battle Royale since its launch and are now missing out on quite a bit of income. Whether that loss is enough to make them change their app store policies remains to be seen.
For now, Fortnite mobile gamers can continue playing on Xbox One, Windows, and other platforms without missing a beat as all game progress syncs between devices using the same Epic Games account. Android players may also want to install the non-Google Play version of the Fortnite app by visiting this page on the Android smartphone or tablet. This version is mostly identical to the Google Play version but is designed to get around the 30% store commission.
Where do you stand on the #FreeFortnite controversy? Do you support Epic Games or are you more put out by the app being removed from the app stores? Do you think there’ll be a resolution by the end of the current season? Share your thoughts in the comments below and then follow us on Pinterest and Twitter for more gaming news.