Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, has opened up a battle with Apple and Google over the fees they charge in their app stores. Will Epic lead a revolt against policies that many developers feel are unfair? Sarah E. Needleman reports for The Wall Street Journal:
Apple and Google yanked “Fortnite,” one of the world’s most popular videogames, from their app stores in an escalating battle over the fees they charge developers to distribute their software and process in-app purchases.
The conflict reflects growing pushback against Apple Inc.’s AAPL +0.60% App Store and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG +0.58% Google Play store on how they operate. Other app makers, including Netflix Inc. and Spotify Technology SA, have also butted heads with Apple on developer fees. At stake is a global market for mobile apps that generates roughly $120 billion annually, according to App Annie Inc.
The decisions Thursday from Apple and Google preventing people from downloading or updating the “Fortnite” app came after the game’s creator, closely held Epic Games Inc., rolled out a new way of making in-game purchases that circumvents the 30% cut tech giants take from digital transactions within apps. The survival game is free to download but generates revenue through purchases of items such as digital costumes and dance moves for players’ avatars.
“Fortnite,” which made its debut in 2017, has more than 350 million registered players world-wide, according to closely held Epic.
Apple and Google said they removed “Fortnite” because Epic’s new payments feature violated their policies. Both said they are willing to work with Epic to be able to bring the game back to their stores.
“For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users,” Google said.
Google’s decision only affected the game’s download and updates from the Play Store, but it could still be accessible on Android devices through other marketplaces.
Epic’s move was seen by many as a declaration of war against Apple and Google.
Epic Chief Executive Tim Sweeney has waged a yearslong public campaign against the App Store and Google Play store, saying their developer fees are exorbitant. On Thursday Epic released a video parody of Apple’s “1984” commercial aired nationally during Super Bowl XVIII skewering International Business Machines Corp., and pushed users to promote the hashtag #FreeFortnite across the internet.
“We must all choose to fight a painful battle now, or accept an all-powerful middleman with unbounded ambition to extract tribute and limit innovation in the decades to come,” Mr. Sweeney said in an interview.
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