'Fortnite' developer defiant after game is removed from Apple and Google stores

Epic Games announced on Thursday that it was launching a direct payment system

The popular video game "Fortnite" by Epic Games is pictured on a screen in this picture illustration August 14, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Illustration

Apple and Google have dropped Fortnite from their app stores, after the game's founder introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.

It what has been dubbed a David versus Goliath move, Fortnite developer Epic Games announced on Thursday that it was launching Epic Direct payments. Apple and Google say that this new service violates their guidelines.

In a defiant Tweet on Friday, August 14, bookended with the hashtag #FreeFortnite, the developer announced: "Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices."

It also unveiled a short animated film, Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite, which at the time of writing had racked up 3.2 million views, encouraging viewers to "join the fight to stop 2020 becoming 1984."

Fortnite consists of 100 players skydiving on to an island and engaging in one-on-one combat until a single player is left standing. Its success has been astronomical and it currently has more players than Twitter has users.

While Fortnite is free to download, users pay for in-game additions, such as weapons. Apple and Google both take a 30 per cent cut of in-app revenue purchases within games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.

A scene from the "Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite" short released by popular video game "Fortnite" maker Epic Games is seen, after Apple Inc removed the game from its App Store for violating the company's in-app payment guidelines. Epic Games/Handout via REUTERS NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT

“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services," Apple said in statement.

Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that's generally not an option for iPhone users.

“Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS in-app payment processing market,” Epic Games said in a statement.

The move has garnered industry support, with a Spotify spokesperson saying in a statement: “We applaud Epic Games’ decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple’s abuse of its dominant position.

"Apple’s unfair practices have disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers for far too long. The stakes for consumers and app developers large and small couldn’t be higher and ensuring that the iOS platform [Apple’s operating system] operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications.”