(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. and Google removed Fortnite from their app stores on Thursday, prompting lawsuits by the game’s creator, Epic Games Inc. The moves escalate a dispute between the companies that had been brewing in recent weeks.
Previously: Epic Games Challenges Apple, Google Stores With Direct Payment
The disagreement stems from a longstanding Apple App Store rule saying most apps must offer billing through Apple and pay the company 30% of revenue. On Thursday morning, Epic began offering customers a way to directly buy items for Fortnite and circumvent the fees. Hours later, Apple pulled the app, and Google followed suit later in the day.
Apple said in an emailed statement it removed Fortnite because Epic’s changes had the “express intent of violating the App Store guidelines.” Apple said its store helped enable Epic’s success over the last decade and that it offers a “level playing field” for businesses. Google issued a similar statement but noted that Android allows for multiple app stores, unlike the iPhone.
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.
Facebook on Friday took a shot at Apple, saying the company will only be able to pay small businesses a portion of sales from a new paid online events feature because of the iOS App Store’s policies.
As a result, Facebook said it would make it clear to users in the iOS version of its app that Apple is taking a cut of their sales.
This move makes Facebook the latest company to criticize Apple’s policy to take a 30% cut of all sales conducted through its iPhone and iPad products.