Epic Games vs. Apple: Timeline of Events Surrounding Fortnite's Removal From App Store

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,635
10,946


Apple has faced increasing scrutiny over its App Store practices from both developers and regulators in recent months. One particularly vocal critic has been Fortnite creator Epic Games, which has repeatedly referred to the App Store as a monopoly.


In August 2020, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store after Epic Games introduced a direct payment option in the app for its in-game currency V-Bucks, defying the App Store rules. In what appears to have been an orchestrated move, Epic Games promptly filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of anti-competitive actions.

Below, we've put together a timeline of the Epic Games vs. Apple saga.

June 16
  • Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tells The Washington Post that "the iOS App Store's monopoly protects only Apple profit, not device security."
  • Sweeney quote tweets The Washington Post's story: "Here Apple speaks of a level playing field. To me, this means: All iOS developers are free to process payments directly, all users are free to install software from any source. In this endeavor, Epic won't seek nor accept a special deal just for ourselves."
June 23

  • Sweeney tweets: "Opening iOS and Android up as truly open platforms with a genuinely level playing field between first party and third party apps and stores is the only way to ensure a competitive, healthy, and fair app economy."
July 24

  • Sweeney tells CNBC that the App Store is an "absolute monopoly," arguing that "Apple has locked down and crippled the ecosystem by inventing an absolute monopoly on the distribution of software, on the monetization of software."
July 28
  • Sweeney tweets: "It pains me to complain about Apple in this way. Apple is one of the greatest companies that has ever existed, perhaps the greatest. But they're fundamentally wrong in blocking competition and choice on devices they make, and that holds up entire fields of technological progress."
  • Sweeney tweets: "This is a critical consideration in these 30% store fees. They come off the top, before funding any developer costs. As a result, Apple and Google make more profit from most developers' games than the developers themselves. That is terribly unfair and exploitative."
August 1
  • Sweeney tweets: "Apple's intentional anti-competitive strategy has been running for much longer than most realize. Here they are in 2011 muscling Kindle purchases off of iPhone by demanding 30% of e-book revenue, 'which we acknowledge is prohibitive for many things.'"
August 13
  • Epic Games introduces a direct payment option in the Fortnite app for iPhone and iPad, allowing players to purchase in-game V-Bucks at a 20 percent discount by sidestepping Apple's in-app purchase mechanism. This functionality violates Apple's App Store Review Guidelines, which indicate that apps offering in-game currency must use Apple's in-app purchase mechanism only.
  • The direct payment option is also added to the Fortnite app on Android in violation of Google's Play Store rules.
  • Epic Games describes Apple's and Google's 30 percent cut on in-app purchases as "exorbitant." Epic also notes that apps that offer real-life goods and services like Uber, DoorDash, and StubHub are not required to use Apple's in-app purchase mechanism, a rule that it believes should apply to all developers.
  • Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store. In a statement shared with MacRumors, the company said that "Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users." The full statement is below.
    Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users. As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. 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.

    Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem - including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we're glad they've built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.
  • Epic Games files a lawsuit [PDF] against Apple in California, describing the company as a "monopoly power" and accusing it of "unfair and anti-competitive actions." The complaint alleges that "Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation."
  • Epic Games shares a video called "Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite," parodying Apple's iconic "1984" ad. Whereas Apple's ad portrayed IBM as the evil "Big Brother," Epic Games aims to show that Apple is now the dominant power. "Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming '1984.'"

  • In a blog post, Epic Games encourages Fortnite players to fight against Apple's "app tax" by using the hashtag #FreeFortnite on social platforms.
  • In an FAQ, Epic Games says that "all mobile developers and consumers have the right to choose alternate payment providers that charge less, as is the norm on all other general-purpose computing platforms, including Web, Windows, and Mac." Epic adds that "Apple even allows Amazon Prime Video to process payments directly as a special deal while holding other apps to a different standard."
  • Spotify sides with Epic Games.
  • Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store.
  • Epic Games files a similar anti-competitive lawsuit against Google.
  • Sweeney tweets: "Today, Apple said Epic is seeking a special deal, but that's not true. We're fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it'll be a hell of a fight!"
August 14
  • Sweeney tweets: "At the most basic level, we're fighting for the freedom of people who bought smartphones to install apps from sources of their choosing, the freedom for creators of apps to distribute them as they choose, and the freedom of both groups to do business directly."
August 17
  • Epic Games reveals that its Apple Developer Program account will be terminated on August 28, 2020 unless it resolves violations of the Developer Program License Agreement, including introducing new payment functionality that was not submitted to or reviewed by Apple's App Review team. Apple says this would result in Epic Games losing access to all of Apple's software, SDKs, APIs, and developer tools. Without that access, Epic Games says it cannot develop future versions of its Unreal Engine game engine for use on iOS or macOS.
  • The Information reports that Epic Games is seeking to form a "coalition of Apple critics."
  • In a statement, Apple says "we won't make an exception for Epic because we don't think it's right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers."
August 20
August 21
  • In a court filing, Apple says that Epic Games emailed the company on June 30 asking for a "special deal" that would allow its Epic Games Store app on iOS, sidestepping Apple's in-app purchase mechanism. Apple also likens Epic's behavior to shoplifting: "If developers can avoid the digital checkout, it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid."
  • Sweeney tweets: "Apple's statement is misleading. You can read my email in Apple's filing, which is publicly available. I specifically said in Epic's request to the Apple execs, 'We hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers...'"
August 23
  • In a court filing, Epic Games argues that Apple's plan to terminate its Developer Program membership would be "overbroad retaliation" and "an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly and chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple."
  • Microsoft files a declaration in support of Epic Games, in which Xbox gaming executive Kevin Gammill writes that "Apple's discontinuation of Epic's ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers."
August 24
  • U.S. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers grants a temporary restraining order that will prevent Apple from blocking Epic Games' access to development tools for its Unreal Engine, but as of now, she is not forcing Apple to put Fortnite back on the App Store. The restraining order goes into effect immediately and will remain in force until the court issues a final order on the motion for preliminary injunction in September.
August 25
  • Apple issues the following statement: "We thank the court for recognizing that Epic's problem is entirely self-inflicted and is in their power to resolve. Our very first priority is making sure App Store users have a great experience in a safe and trusted environment, including iPhone users who play Fortnite and who are looking forward to the game's next season. We agree with Judge Gonzalez-Rogers that 'the sensible way to proceed' is for Epic to comply with the ‌App Store‌ guidelines and continue to operate while the case proceeds. If Epic takes the steps the judge has recommended, we will gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS. We look forward to making our case to the court in September."
August 26
August 27
  • Epic Games emails players noting that "Apple has blocked Fortnite updates on iOS and Mac devices," adding that "Apple limits competition so they can collect 30% of consumer payments made in apps like Fortnite, raising the prices you pay."
August 28
September 4
September 8
  • Apple countersues Epic Games, requesting damages for breach of contract. In its answer, Apple describes Epic Games as a "multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the ‌App Store‌."
September 9
September 10
  • Epic says Apple has "provided an indefinite extension" to Sign in with Apple support, but Epic still encourages users to transition their accounts to alternative credentials in case Apple does disable the feature at some point in the future.
We will keep this timeline updated as further developments unfold in the Epic Games vs. Apple saga, so keep this page bookmarked to stay up to date.

Article Link: Epic Games vs. Apple: Timeline of Events Surrounding Fortnite's Removal From App Store
 
Last edited:

Unggoy Murderer

macrumors 6502
Jan 28, 2011
443
851
Edinburgh, Scotland
"We're fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it'll be a hell of a fight!".

Cool, presume he'll be opening up the Epic store to be in line with their demands of Apple and Google (not that anyone would want to use it anyway).

And, I presume Epic will be violating the terms of service on the Microsoft and Sony platform stores too? - they take a slice of the pie like Google and Apple.

The only people who lose out in nonsense like this are the consumers. And they won't forget.
 

Username32123

macrumors member
Jun 22, 2020
36
85
One big PR stunt by Epic Games. Making a meme out of taking down unfavourable policies that affect profit. Sacrificing the weakest limbs of your product (iOS & Android versions) to put yourself in headlines and increase demand of Console/PC versions. The Epic games marketing department is laughing to the bank with all this comotion they generated with deliberate intent to profit from
 

dannys1

macrumors 68030
Sep 19, 2007
2,629
4,760
UK
It's particular difficult to side with Epic Games over this...

For a start they're obviously using as a PR stunt - anyone who was going to play Fortnite on mobile already has the game installed...so it's not blocked from billions of devices at all.

Secondly they're not the little company being bullied they're trying to play - they're a multi billion pound company. Further more they've made that money by treating staff like crap and basically selling nothing of substance.

How they can claim 30% revenue to a store is unfair when they sell "digital pixels" for double the price a company like Funko can design, manufacture and produce a physical object, distribute it to starts around the world, pay a license fee over single one sold, cover the well over 70% taken by physical stores who I might add also struggle to make a profit once taxes, overheads and delivery to customer is sorted and yet still manage to do it cheaper than Epic selling vbucks to purchase items that don't even really exist is beyond me.

Try charging a pound/dollar for a skin and pay the artist properly (and lets be fair a lot of those slight colour changes of skins that already exist are probably being done by the intern on minimum wage) and you might have an argument about 30% being taken by the distributor.

Finally they're even trying to angle it as "we'll pass on the savings to you" yet have ridiculously pointed out that Apple/Google take 30% and they're only lowering the price to the consumer by 20%...wait a minute, where has the other 10% gone?! Ohhh I see, so what Epic really want to do is charge MORE and make MORE money for digital pixels that don't even really exist.

Absolute p*ss take.
 
Last edited:

Analog Kid

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2003
5,408
3,760
If Apple truly were a "monopoly power" then Epic wouldn't be able to survive not selling their game through Apple. They seem ok with being taken down, so presumably they're generating enough revenue elsewhere to pay the bills-- they must have other outlets and competition exists.
 

ejin222

macrumors 6502
Oct 12, 2011
344
184
  • Epic Games describes Apple's and Google's 30 percent cut on in-app purchases as "exorbitant." Epic also notes that apps that offer real-life goods and services like Uber, DoorDash, and StubHub are not required to use Apple's in-app purchase mechanism, a rule that it believes should apply to all developers.
This point makes sense to me.... What do you all think?
 

dannys1

macrumors 68030
Sep 19, 2007
2,629
4,760
UK
And, I presume Epic will be violating the terms of service on the Microsoft and Sony platform stores too? - they take a slice of the pie like Google and Apple.

The only people who lose out in nonsense like this are the consumers. And they won't forget.
Yeah it's funny how they're willing to lose the mobile revenue, knowing it's only probably a small percentage of the vbucks sales, but happy to pay Microsoft and Sony their 30% cut on consoles as they the largest share of selling digital pixels to kids there.
 

miniroll32

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2010
1,474
3,008
How can anyone defend Epic's behaviour?

If they don't like what they deem as a 'monopoly' - the idea that they willingly agreed to a contract set-out by Apple for a service that they were not forced to join - then they can always do the right thing and not make their games not 'free-to-play' (which itself entices users into spending huge sums of money over the lifespan of the game).

The likes of Epic Games knew the App Store guidelines from the moment they signed up to become an Apple authorised developer. If they are genuinely 'looking out' for consumers, and stand by this notion that they are freeing users/others from a monopoly, then they wouldn’t even have Fortnite available in the App Store in first place.

I don’t recall a big fuss when the App Store was tiny, and was still taking a 30% cut from literally ‘hundreds’, not millions, of downloads.

And yes, it turns out that millions of people like to purchase Apple devices and download apps. If that's a monopoly all these years on, then we've seen little fuss of it so far.

Truth is, Epic are just throwing their toys out of the pram because they know they don’t have a sustainable business model. Instead, all they care about is getting users - particularly those who are under age - to download software like this at no cost (because they are already feel entitled) and then continually spend money on intangible ‘features’.

They want an extra 30%? Do the right thing and make the software paid-for. Otherwise, there are plenty of other platforms to draw people into.

The sad part about all this of course that many young people who don't understand business practice, or the history behind 1984 as a novel or the Apple commercial, will start spreading hatred towards Apple.
 

LeadingHeat

macrumors regular
Oct 3, 2015
160
358
  • Epic Games describes Apple's and Google's 30 percent cut on in-app purchases as "exorbitant." Epic also notes that apps that offer real-life goods and services like Uber, DoorDash, and StubHub are not required to use Apple's in-app purchase mechanism, a rule that it believes should apply to all developers.
This point makes sense to me.... What do you all think?
As a consumer, I’d much rather pay an extra $1 or $2 to ensure I am able to be protected under scams (or hacks to their payment system), able to get refunds easily have parental control over purchases, and many other security/usability features. I’m okay with it and I’m sure others are too. (Or don’t even notice that it costs slightly more when compared to their standalone website).
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2003
5,408
3,760
  • Epic Games describes Apple's and Google's 30 percent cut on in-app purchases as "exorbitant." Epic also notes that apps that offer real-life goods and services like Uber, DoorDash, and StubHub are not required to use Apple's in-app purchase mechanism, a rule that it believes should apply to all developers.
This point makes sense to me.... What do you all think?
I think I wish Apple required real-life services to bill through Apple's mechanism as well. I only use services I can pay through Apple Pay anyway.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.