Epic Games has been at war with Apple and Google for over a year now.
Last August, the Fortnite developer enabled a feature in the game that would allow players to buy the premium currency, V-Bucks, directly from Epic. This allowed Epic to skirt Apple’s commission fee that it takes from all in-app purchases. Apple promptly removed Fortnite from the App Store in response, and as 2021 comes to a close, the game is still unavailable on iOS.
Following the game’s removal, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple challenging its restrictions on alternative options for customers to complete in-app purchases.
Apple won on nine of ten counts, but the court did rule that Apple would have to allow developers to inform users about other payment options within their apps. For Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, this wasn’t nearly enough, and he continues to make that clear every chance he gets.
Epic Games attacks Apple’s App Store practices
As Epic Games and Apple were facing off last year, South Korea’s National Assembly passed a law that banned app market operators from requiring developers to use their in-app purchase systems. South Korea gave Apple, Google, and others until mid-October to submit a plan to comply with the new law. It is now mid-November, and Apple has yet to share its compliance plans.
With that in mind, we return to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Bloomberg reports that Sweeney spoke at the Global Conference on Mobile Application Ecosystem Fairness in South Korea earlier this week. Unsurprisingly, he used the platform to attack Apple and Google’s practices.
“What the world really needs now is a single store that works with all platforms,” Sweeney said during an interview in Seoul on Tuesday. “Right now software ownership is fragmented between the iOS App Store, the Android Google Play marketplace, different stores on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, and then Microsoft Store and the Mac App Store.”
Notably, Epic happens to have a store very similar to the one that Sweeney was describing. The Epic Games Store launched at the end of 2018, and has competed with Steam by giving away free games every week and taking a much smaller cut of the revenue from developers.
Apple ‘must be stopped’ and Google is ‘crazy’
Sweeney then proceeded to call out Apple by name and its refusal to comply with the law:
Apple locks a billion users into one store and payment processor. Now Apple complies with oppressive foreign laws, which surveil users and deprive them of political rights. But Apple is ignoring laws passed by Korea’s democracy. Apple must be stopped.
Sweeney was also critical of Google, which has similarly banned Fortnite from the Play Store. He said it was “crazy” that Google was charging fees on payments it doesn’t process. He told the attendees that he was “very proud to stand up against these monopolies” with them.
Google spokesman Dan Jackson offered the following response when Bloomberg reached out:
Google Play’s service fee has never been simply for payment processing. It’s how we provide Android and Google Play for free and invest in the many distribution, development, and security services that support developers and consumers in South Korea and around the world.
Needless to say, this fight is far from over.
In the meantime, you can still play Fortnite on Android devices if you know where to look. Just head to this page on Epic’s website and scan the QR code to get started. We still don’t know when or if Apple will ever allow Fortnite back onto the App Store. It certainly won’t be any time soon.