Why Did Google and Apple Remove Fortnite From Their App Store?

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Harrison Zuritsky, Business Editor

Fortnite, an online video game, has released its latest season, but millions of its players won’t be able to enjoy it this year. The game has been pulled from Apple’s App Store leaving iOS and macOS users unable to update to the highly anticipated Season 4.

But this issue is bigger than one update, one game, or even one company. Fortnite’s Apple user base is the newest casualty in a years-long antitrust battle between developers and one of the world’s richest companies.

Epic Games sued Apple in mid-August, claiming that the company’s App Store practices violate the Sherman Act since Apple was taking so much of the profits. Epic says that the Sherman Act (which is the 30 percent commission Apple charges for app sales and in-app purchases which Apple believes is fair) is a monopoly and that Epic as well as its fellow developers should have other alternatives. 

Apple, a $2 trillion company, has not only refused to consider changing its lucrative business model but also removed Fortnite from the App Store.

The purchases on Apple mobile devices for apps must go through the company’s App Store, which charges a 30 percent commission for app purchases as well as any purchases made within the app itself. ”

As a “freemium” game (freemium means that one does not have to pay any money to be successful at the game), Fortnite makes all of its money through in-app purchases of its virtual currency, and Apple takes a cut of these profits

When Epic attempted to avoid this by offering customers the option of purchasing Fortnite currency directly from Epic at a discount, Apple removed Fortnite from the store for violating its terms of service.

Epic responded with a lawsuit, joining an even louder chorus of developers who have accused the App Store of monopolistic practices, given the company’s total control over the apps offered on its devices. And now, Apple is firing back with a lawsuit of its own.

At a hearing scheduled for September 28, a judge will decide whether or not Epic will get a preliminary injunction (a court order that may be granted before or during the trial, to preserve the status quo before the final judgment) that will force Apple to let Fortnite back into the App Store.

This hearing is only the beginning of a protracted legal battle. The outcome could significantly change the app ecosystem Apple helped create, possibly to developers’ and consumers’ benefits. Right now, however, all sides are losing.

In response to the lawsuits, Epic has mobilized its user base on social media, releasing a cheeky video copying an old Apple ad and encouraging its users to share the hashtag #FreeFortnite.

Apple will most likely win because it has most of the power, but Apple still might lower their commission percentage—maybe only to 25 percent. That situation would be the best for both companies, so Fortnite stays on the App Store, and the App Store developers will have more money to spend on their games, which will lead to more revenue and online games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h62AhBb5N1Q Apple ad vs #FreeFortnite ad