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Epic Games still pretends it did nothing wrong to ruin Fortnite on iPhone

Published Aug 27th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Fortnite Chapter 4
Image: Epic Games

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  • Fortnite season 4 will not be available on iPhone and Android, as Epic Games isn’t willing to fix the problem it created when it chose to defy the App Store and Google Play rules.
  • The company confirmed that Fortnite players on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, will not even be able to play people on other platforms going forward, on top of losing access to the upcoming Season 4 update.
  • Epic still pretends it did nothing wrong to ruin Fortnite on iPhone, in complete disregard of what the judge presiding over the Epic vs. Apple lawsuit said earlier this week.

From the moment Epic Games engineered a Fortnite crisis on iPhone and Android, I told you that the company isn’t an innocent victim in all of this, and it deserves a loss in court. That court came on Monday, with a judge ruling that the Fortnite conundrum is a self-inflicting problem that Epic can fix by merely complying with Apple’s App Store rules. It doesn’t really matter whether Epic is right to challenge Apple’s 30% cut in its antitrust suit. That battle will move forward and has nothing to do with the basic fact that Epic broke contractual obligations. It’s easy to take Epic’s side in all of this, as the company keeps painting itself as the hero we all need. But it could make the same claims while still adhering to the App Store rules for the duration of the trial.

The other day I warned you not to buy one of those expensive iPhones that come with Fortnite preinstalled and showed you what could happen next. By Friday, I said that we’d learn whether Epic will restore the Fortnite app to the version that doesn’t violate any rules, or that it will keep challenging Apple. In either case, the iPhone purchase isn’t warranted. It looks like Epic’s decision came even earlier than that, and the company confirmed you shouldn’t buy that expensive iPhone while continuing to pretend that it did nothing to ruin Fortnite on iPhone and Android.

Epic updated its Free Fortnite FAQ with more information that makes it clear that the company won’t fix the iPhone app:

Apple is blocking Fortnite updates and new installs on the App Store, and has said they will terminate our ability to develop Fortnite for Apple devices. As a result, Fortnite’s newly released Chapter 2 – Season 4 update (v14.00), will not release on iOS and macOS on August 27.

The company explains that you can still play Chapter 2 – Season 3’s v13.40 update on iPhone and iPad if you’ve downloaded the game. But what that really means is that you’ll lose the ability to play with gamers on other platforms. You’ll be stuck in a sort of limbo, much like the characters in Lost, where you’d only face gamers who are on the same devices like you — that includes iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

While Epic’s main beef is with Apple, the Android version of Fortnite is equally compromised. You’ll have to sideload the app from Epic or get it from the Samsung Galaxy Store to play.

The entire FAQ section contains plenty of misconstrued facts that paint Apple as the bad guy, and it does so from the start.

Epic gave Fortnite players on iOS a choice between Apple payment and Epic direct payment, passing on savings to direct purchasers. Apple retaliated by blocking Fortnite updates on iOS devices and threatening to prevent Epic from creating software for all Apple devices — not just on Fortnite but all of our games, and Unreal Engine too.

Apple is asking that Epic revert Fortnite to exclusively use Apple payments. Their proposal is an invitation for Epic to collude with Apple to maintain their monopoly over in-app payments on iOS, suppressing free market competition and inflating prices. As a matter of principle, we won’t participate in this scheme.

This goes on for plenty of paragraphs, where Epic makes no mention of the initial ruling in the case on Monday, where a judge explained clearly why Fortnite is in this predicament: It’s all because of Epic’s wrongdoing.

The whole thing shows how entitled Epic feels about the iPhone and iOS. It’s as if those platforms are there for the taking, and Epic should be able to do whatever it wants with it, with total disregard for the rules. Again, I’m not defending the Apple tax here, and this isn’t even about that. But nobody forces anyone to code apps and games for the iPhone. Epic chooses to do it and should respect the contract it has with Apple even if it hates it. And Epic could challenge it in court without all this drama.

In simpler terms, imagine that you’ve found an option to get V-bucks inside Fortnite for free, then exploited it, and gave to others. Epic would surely block any account that could hack Fortnite that way to protect its bottom line and make it clear to anyone that the terms of service aren’t optional. You could scream all you wanted that Epic charges too much for Fortnite in-app purchases, and that your hack should be allowed. You might even demand access to the game so you can sell different V-bucks for less than what Epic is charging, and then sue the company for not complying with your requests and taking action against you. It’s a stretch, and the comparison isn’t entirely valid. But the point is the same. Contracts between two parties have consequences.

Epic could go on fighting Apple over its App Store rules for however long it wants, and it might become the hero it wants to be in this antitrust case in the coming years. But it should stop pretending the Fortnite mess on iPhone (and Android) isn’t of its own doing.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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