Apple have terminated Epic Games’ App Store developer account, as part of the ongoing dispute over Epic direct payment and the removal of Fortnite from the App Store.
As we previously reported, Epic Games announced that the price of V-Bucks, Fornite‘s in-game currency that can be bought with real money, would permanently be 20% cheaper on all platforms. However, on Android and iOS, a new payment method was introduced.
Rather than buying the V-Bucks through Google Play and the App Store respectively, Epic Games launched the “Epic direct payment.” “When you choose to use Epic direct payments,” the announcement explains, “you save up to 20% as Epic passes along payment processing savings to you.”
This is due to Apple and Google collecting a 30% fee through all V-Bucks bought on their respective platforms. As such, the 20% drop has not been applied to purchases made through them. Epic Games state that “If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.”
Shortly after this announcement, Apple and Google both removed Fortnite from the App Store and Google Play Stores respectively due to Epic Games violating their terms of service.
Epic Games issued legal action against both, citing that they had a monopoly over their stores on iOS and Android. Apple had allegedly threatened to terminate all of Epic Games’ App Store developer accounts and cut off tools for development on iOS and Mac.
Epic Games may have been expecting action from Apple however, having made a parody of Apple’s own 1984 commercial; appealing to their fans to support them. Further, the #FreeFortnite Cup was recently announced; acting as “the final days of the entire Fortnite community’s ability to play together.”
Apple later accused Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney of asking for exception from the App Store terms and conditions. Sweeney tweeted that Apple’s statement was misleading, and presented screenshots of the alleged emails. Microsoft also filed a statement of support, favoring Epic Games.
Now, 9 to 5 Mac has shared an official statement from Apple, confirming they have terminated Epic Games’ App Store developer account. This means Epic Games will no longer be able to submit new apps, or updates to existing ones (such as the Infinity Blade games).
“We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.”
Sweeney replied to the outlet on Twitter, claiming that Apple had once again taken things out of context.
“Apple’s statement isn’t forthright,” Sweeney claims. “They chose to terminate Epic’s account; they didn’t *have* to. Apple suggests we spammed the App Store review process. That’s not so. Epic submitted three Fortnite builds: two bug-fix updates, and the Season 4 update with this note.”
The alleged note reads as follows.
Fortnite build v14.0 with the new Season 4 has been uploaded through App Store Connect.
This build continues to offer customers the choice of in-app purchases through either Apple’s payment solution through Epic direct payment. Epic is submitting this version in case Apple wishes to restore Fortnite to the App Store in time for Season 4 launch.
From the outside it seems strange to submit an update for a game removed from the App Store, rather than negotiate a amicable resolution to the lawsuit and have Fortnite return to the App Store. However, judging by Epic Games’ “marketing” of the lawsuit with in-game events, that seems unlikely.
As aforementioned, Apple also threatened to cut off tools for development on iOS and Mac. This means games developed and being developed in the Unreal Engine will not work on iOS and Mac. Along with harming projects in development, existing games may need to be removed from the App Store or abandoned on Mac as they become outdated due to lack of updates.
We will keep you informed as we learn more.