Exactly like it wanted
[Update: Epic immediately sued Apple. Shortly after Fortnite was pulled from the App Store, Epic filed a 62-page lawsuit for injunctive relief. The Complaint alleges violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the California Cartwright Act, and the California Unfair Competition Law. The lawsuit was clearly drafted well in advance, as Epic obviously anticipated Apple removing Fortnite.
This saga is going to get very sticky before anything’s resolved. That’s a fight Epic is willing to take up.]
Fortnite‘s V-Bucks just got a little cheaper across the board. Epic has permanently discounted the Fortnite currency by 20 percent. Previously, $1 used to get you 100 V-Bucks; now you get the same amount for 80 cents.
The impetus behind this price reduction seems like it’s driven entirely by Epic’s need to throw a giant “Fuck You” at Apple and Google. Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store’s policies have long been in Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s crosshairs, as he takes issue with the revenue splits they take. They’ll demand up to 30 percent of revenue just for processing payments and being included inside those mobile ecosystems.
Today, Epic launched its own direct payment system on mobile versions of Fortnite and it’s awfully compelling to any prospective V-Bucks buyer. Here’s what it looks like:
Anyone who opts for paying Epic directly will see that 20 percent savings; anyone who doesn’t is paying more than the new permanent price. The choice is pretty obvious.
Epic has dragged Apple and Google into a high-risk game of chicken, seeing if the tech giants will delist the world’s most popular video game for running afoul of their store rules. There are even higher stakes than just Fortnite, as Apple is under fire in both the United States and European Union for possible antitrust violations. Slapping down Fortnite might just bolster the argument for regulatory agencies that Apple is engaged in anti-competitive business practices.
It worked. Apple has removed Fortnite from the App Store. In a statement to The Verge, Apple says its hand was forced by Epic because of “express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.” Apple adds that it’s willing to work with Epic to resolve these issues, but it’s not making a special exception for Epic.
What happens next will be fascinating. Sweeney and Epic don’t even want special exception. They have a fundamental problem with the forced revenue splits from Apple and Google. They want unilateral reform. That’s especially true in the case of Apple, where Sweeney is particularly frustrated by the “closed ecosystem” approach.
This is all a stunt to make Apple and Google look bad. Not many companies would be willing to sacrifice its cash cow to make that statement. For now, Fortnite can’t be found on iOS devices. That’s exactly the outcome Epic wanted.