What happened to Fortnite? The notoriously popular social video game platform is now missing from iOS and Google Play.
Fortnite instantly made headlines when it became available as a mobile game in 2018. The game has racked up millions of users across its mobile platforms, so what happened to Fortnite on mobile? Why did Epic Games decide to kill what is essentially a golden goose? The long answer is a fight that spans the music industry, the gaming industry, and maybe online transactions as we know them.
Why did Apple ban Fortnite?
Epic Games issued an update to Fortnite that bypassed Apple’s built-in payments system. This action is a direct violation of the developer agreement and App Store terms of service that Epic agrees to abide by. After the ToS-violating update went live, Apple quickly yanked Fornite from the App Store.
Why did Epic Games bypass Apple’s payments system? The developer says Apple’s revenue share percentage is too high. Currently, Apple takes anywhere from 15%-30% on in-app payments, depending on the developer arrangement. Epic argues that this percentage is uncompetitive and puts itself at a disadvantage.
“Currently, when using Apple and Google payment options, Apple and Google collect a 30% fee. If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you,” Epic Games stated in a blog. Fortnite is missing from both the App Store and Google Play – but on Android, you can sideload apps.
When Will Fortnite Come Back to Apple?
Epic has launched an antitrust lawsuit against both Apple and Google over its revenue-sharing agreement. Apple argues that the App Store does not present a monopoly. Epic argues otherwise, seeking to abolish the App Store as a sole point of installation for new apps on iOS.
“Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over iOS,” Epic Games says. To try and curry favor with gamers impacted by the removal of Fortnite, Epic launched a ‘1984’ parody video.
Epic’s video parodied a now-famous Apple commercial with a bid to #FreeFortnite. “Fast forward to 2020, and Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic Games says in its legal filing against Apple.
Will this impact new music releases in Fortnite?
Yes and no. Fortnite has already established itself as a virtual stage for artists to tour. Travis Scott, Marshmello, Steve Aoki, Major Lazer, and others have already taken advantage of it. Without access to the iOS market, Fornite’s reach as a global stage is limited.
It also doesn’t help that Fortnite is facing competition from other social games in the music sphere. Roblox just hosted a successful album launch party for Ava Max – and Roblox is still available on iOS. Epic Games built a sound stage for its Fortnite exclusive concerts, which will continue in the Party Royale format. But with less reach on mobile devices, will its digital stage remain a relevant tour stop?
What happens next with Fortnite?
Despite the Fortnite vs. Apple narrative, this is part of a much larger fight. Epic Games is a founding member of the Coalition for App Fairness, seeking to end mobile monopolies. Other founding members from the music industry include Spotify and Deezer.
But other major players in the gaming industry are getting on board with this movement, too. Apple is blocking game streaming services from Google (Stadia) and Microsoft (xCloud). Apple says it’s impossible to moderate these third-party game marketplaces for content.
The outcome of this situation depends highly on how the Epic Games vs. Apple case is handled. So far, a federal judge has refused to force Apple to allow the game back onto the App Store. Judge Rogers described Epic’s situation of its own making and said Apple doesn’t have to reinstate the app, pending a trial.