‘Stop 2020 from becoming 1984’: Fortnite developer sues Apple & Google after game YANKED from stores in in-app payment row

“Apple has blocked Fortnite from the App Store."

Image Credits: NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images.

The company behind Fortnite has all but declared war on big tech after the game was pulled from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, thanks to a recent update that skirted mandatory fees for in-app payments.

The popular title was scrubbed from the App Store following a major update on Thursday, which allowed players to make direct payments to Fortnite developer Epic Games, circumventing a 30 percent fee required on the platform. In response, Epic has sued Apple, accusing the company of “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices.”

“Apple has blocked Fortnite from the App Store, removing everyone’s ability to install and update the game on iOS devices,” Epic said in a statement, adding that the tech giant is “keeping prices high so they can collect 30 percent of your payments, and is blocking Fortnite in order to prevent Epic from passing on the savings” to consumers.

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Apple has addressed the complaint, arguing that Epic had “agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely,” adding: “The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers.”

Later on Thursday, the game developer announced that Fortnite had also been blocked on Google Play. Though Epic offered no other details on the ban, the company has filed another lawsuit against Google for similar anti-competitive practices. Like Apple, Google also requires games on its platform to use an officially approved payment system, both taking the same 30 percent cut. Google responded by explaining that “while Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies,” which it said were “fair to developers.”

Bringing the controversy to social media, Epic took a swipe at Apple with a parody of the company’s own Orwellian-themed ad for the Macintosh, calling on players to “join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming ‘1984’” and helping to send #FreeFortnite into the trends on Twitter.

The row over the payment mechanism is not Epic’s first with either company. In 2018, it removed Fortnite from Google Play to distribute the game directly, citing the 30 percent fee. The company eventually brought the game back to the platform some 18 months later, though still maintained that Google’s policies put it at a “disadvantage.”

Epic has also recently joined a number of other app developers – including Spotify, Tinder and Hinge – in challenging fees on the App Store, with CEO Tim Sweeney calling on Apple to allow “all iOS developers” to be “free to process payments directly.”