By Chand Bellur
August 30, 2020 at 3:07 p.m. PT
- Apple removed Epic Games’ account from the App Store on Friday, preventing them from distributing their software titles to iOS and iPadOS users.
- The decision results from a battle between Apple and Epic over withholding 30% of in-app purchase receipts.
- Apple still allows Epic’s Unreal Engine account in the App Store, as per court order.
The Battle Between Epic Games and Apple is Getting Ugly
Few things are worse than feuds between best friends. Once the darling of the Apple Ecosystem and a fixture at WWDC keynotes, Epic Games is now in the dog house.
Epic Games, developer of Fortnite, the most popular game on the planet, decided to fight Apple’s 30% take on in-app purchases. After all, it’s a hefty fee to pay to a company that only hosts app downloads and handles billing. Epic must pay to run the servers powering online games. Apple does not provide such amenities with their 30% cut.
Epic attempted to buck Apple’s in-app purchase system, which is technically easy to do. E-commerce and online software distribution are nothing new. The App Store is a latecomer to the business. Epic added the ability to purchase V-Bucks directly from the source, instead of through the App Store mechanism. The move resulted in Apple blocking the update and eventually removing Fortnite from the App Store.
Refusing to capitulate, Apple deleted the Fortnite developer’s App Store account. If you already have Epic Games apps on your device, they can still be played, even in online mode. Epic hosts the games, not Apple, which is partly why their 30% revenue grab seems excessive.
App Store Monopoly Likely to End
Apple has monopoly power but little political influence. In fact, many politicians detest the company, along with a growing cadre of tech billionaires.
Mark Zuckerberg joined the battle against App Store revenue sharing. Much like Epic Games, Facebook also countered App Store policy, but in a much more subtle way.
The social media giant simply added a note next to an in-app purchase button stating that Apple takes 30% of the revenues. The move seems to encourage purchases outside of the App Store. Apple refused to let the update go live, citing a policy prohibiting irrelevant information.
Epic Games, Facebook, Microsoft, Basecamp, Tile, and many other companies have actively sought to end Apple’s App Store monopoly. Congressional leaders are taking note, pledging to reign in Apple’s domination.
With big money at stake, tech titans will likely influence policy and end Apple’s App Store monopoly. iOS and iPadOS users will presumably earn the freedom to download apps from the web or third-party app stores. This would allow developers like Epic to sell games and virtual goods without losing almost a third of their revenues.