In the newly launched lawsuit from Epic Games against Apple, the latter company has compared the addition of direct in-game Fortnite payments to retail shoplifting, stating that it ultimately deprived Apple of revenue from sales. The accusation follows Epic’s decision to quietly — and in violation of App Store rules — launch a discounted direct payment option in Fortnite on iPhone to get around Apple’s cut of the revenue.
Earlier this month, Epic launched a surprise legal battle — perhaps ‘war’ is a better term — against Apple and, within hours, Google, over the fees they take from developers every time a user or player makes a purchase. Epic anticipated the removal of its Fortnite mobile game from the App Store and was ready to go with a lawsuit against Apple, as well as a video comparing the company to a dictatorship and even a hashtag campaign for fans to rally behind.
At the heart of the matter, based on Epic’s legal complaint, is that developers aren’t free to offer their customers direct payments, instead having to go through the Apple (or Google, depending on platform) payment system that includes the hefty 30-percent fee. Lacking the option of offering direct payments, developers must pass the costs on to the customer.
Epic has compared this mandatory payment method and related fee to something like a dictatorship, but Apple has its own accusation to throw back at Epic: that violating the guidelines and circumventing the rules was like shoplifting. Apple said to the court, “If developers can avoid the digital checkout, it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid.”
Unlike on Android, which allows users to install apps from outside of the Google Play Store, iOS users are no longer able to get updates for Fortnite mobile. It’s unclear how many players this move will impact — the game remains available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Comparatively speaking, the Fortnite experience on mobile is poor on all but the most high-end tablets.