#FreeFortnite. Since Thursday evening, a hashtag has panicked social networks. In the space of a few hours, very strong tensions arose between Eric Games and Apple… then Google. The developer of Fortnite has cleverly orchestrated a trap aimed at removing his game from the App Store and the Play Store, then communicating about his ouster. Eric Games has also lodged a complaint against Apple and Google and calls on its players to campaign against the two giants of Silicon Valley. 01net.com sums up this whole affair well on its way to occupy the news for several months.
Epic Games, the publisher of Fortnite, has added an “Apple-free” payment option to its video game, to bypass the 30% tax. It is prohibited by Apple. pic.twitter.com/jpAsbVbQIr
– 01net (@ 01net) August 13, 2020
Epic Games wants to kill the 30% tax
This is nothing new, Epic Games doesn’t like the 30% commission charged by app stores like the App Store and the Play Store. If he had no other choice than the App Store on iOS, the publisher has long preferred alternative installation methods to the Play Store on Android in order to avoid giving Google a commission. Recently, Fortnite had finally made it available on the Play Store.
On Thursday, Fortnite added to its application an option to make In-App purchases directly from its website, at a discounted rate, without paying Apple or Google. This practice violates the App Store and Play Store Terms of Service, which Epic Games knew full well. His goal was to force Apple and Google to be tough.
Fortnite kicked out of the App Store and Play Store
Apple was quick to respond. Very firm on this kind of drifts (even if it is often criticized for making exceptions for certain partners), Tim Cook’s company immediately withdrew Fortnite from the App Store. Later, Google did the same, explaining all the same that the game was not banned from Android since third-party stores existed on his platform.
On iOS, Fortnite calls on all of its players to claim refunds for their in-app purchases from Apple. A detailed FAQ, explaining its actions, is available on his website.
Fortnite’s deletion was a trap
Unfortunately for Apple and Google, everything was planned. Epic Games added this option in Fortnite with the sole aim of being kicked out of the stores and carrying out a masterful communication coup. In the wake of removing its flagship game from the App Store, Epic Games has released a very comprehensive complaint file against Apple, calling for an end to its monopoly. The group is represented by Christine Varney, a former ally of Barack Obama in charge of anti-competitive issues.
Another sign that this case will be a big deal?
Representing Epic in this matter is Christine Varney, a former FTC commissioner and head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division under President Obama. pic.twitter.com/8rBPAgwmPr
– Brian Fung (@b_fung) August 13, 2020
Then, Epic Games made an appointment with its players for a new virtual event. In FortniteThere, he aired a parody short of Apple’s 1984 Macintosh commercial, placing Tim Cook’s company as big brother and Fortnite characters as resistance fighters. The hashtag #FreeFortnite was born, with the aim of a fierce fight against the monopolies of the web giants.
“Epic Games challenged the monopoly of the App Store. In retaliation, Apple blocked Fortnite on a billion devices. Join the fight to prevent 2020 from becoming “1984”, “says Epic Games.
– 01net (@ 01net) August 13, 2020
It was then Google which was entitled to a complaint, without targeted video for the moment even if Fortnite promises more information in the coming hours. Apple seems the number one target.
Fortnite, leader of the sling
Already supported by some developers like those of Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite risk of losing money during these several weeks without App Store and without Play Store. The company seems to assume it and wants to be the face of the sling movement of developers annoyed with the practices of Apple and Google. Remember that the US Senate is currently investigating the App Store and the Play Store and that some controversies, such as the rejection of the Hey app or the privileges granted to some like Amazon, have turned opinion against app stores in recent months. Apple’s refusal to accept Microsoft’s xCloud on its platform makes us think a lot about this matter.
Of course, let’s remember that this case is not really David versus Goliath. Epic Games, owned in part by Chinese giant Tencent, is a video game monster and certainly sees the promotional interest of such a media stunt. The disappearance of Fortnite will interest more people than the rejection of xCloud, Epic Games knows it and intends to use it to make people talk about it.
In the coming hours, tensions between Fortnite and Apple / Gogole are likely to increase. Epic Games has done a good job of creating a publicity stunt and won’t be limited to a little tweet.