Epic Games enabled a payment scheme where Fortnite players could buy V-Bucks directly from the developer, bypassing the normal mobile fees on iOS and Android. Both Apple and Google eventually kicked the game from their storefronts, but Epic seemed particularly peeved at Apple. Epic launched an in-game event and a high-quality parody ad alongside a lawsuit, encouraging fans to stand behind the battle cry of #FreeFortnite.Continue Scrolling To Keep ReadingClick the button below to start this article in quick view.START NOW
For its part, Apple stood up for its existing storefront rules and went one step further, vowing to ban Epic and its development tools from Apple devices. This includes the widely-used Unreal Engine, so a mass ban would have far-reaching effects on the gaming industry in general and the ability to game from Apple computers in particular. Apple has also fought against Epic’s restraining order that would keep it from blocking the developer from its platform.
As reported by CNBC, Apple revealed today that Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was on the horn trying to get Fortnite the same sweetheart deal that Netflix, Amazon, and other big tech companies have with iOS. It’s believed that those with an arrangement with Apple can bypass the 30 percent cut of the fees paid through iOS transactions, which is the same fee that Epic was attempting to bypass with its new payment plan. Former Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller provided proof of several emails from Sweeney asking for a “side letter” from Apple that would enact such a deal.
Apple says the emails show that Epic was also seeking to enable certain undisclosed features in its iOS apps that are now restricted, but there was specific talk of opening a competing fortnite v bucks generator app store to support direct payments between Epic and its customers. The emails were supposedly sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook as well as several other top executives at the company. These emails stand in contrast to Tim Sweeney’s online messaging surrounding the lawsuit, which paints Epic as benevolent toward the wider app and game development communities and fighting against the tyranny of the 30 percent fee. This is the same messaging Epic has applied to the opening of its storefront on PC, where it’s taking on Steam’s dominant position and high fees on its developers.
Whichever side ends up on top in this legal battle, it’s more than the players of Fortnite who will suffer the consequences. As long as the battle continues, it seems that the Unreal Engine will no longer be a preferred option on Apple phones and computers, and hundreds of existing apps running with that engine will be faced with difficult choices regarding future updates. Not only that, but Apple’s slow emergence into the premium gaming market with Apple Arcade could further scare mobile developers away from the engine and reduce Epic’s foothold on the market. For now, many in the industry are waiting with bated breath to see which megacorporation will gain the advantage and potentially decide change the entire industry in the process.