Epic Games has been battling against mobile platforms’ 30% revenue cut of games sold in their stores for some time now. The company seemed to surrender earlier this year, finally making Fortnite available on the Google Play Store, but now Epic is trying a different tack.
Epic has introduced a permanent 20% cut on all things Fortnite — whether you use V-Bucks or real money — that it’s calling the “Fortnite Mega Drop.” Players on PCs or consoles don’t need to do anything special; the discounts have been automatically implemented.
If you’re buying on mobile, you’ll have the option of paying through the store as usual or via an “Epic direct payment option,” which comes with the 20% discount. As Epic reminds players, Google and Apple normally take a 30% cut of sales, which apparently does not apply to the direct payment option. However, “If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.”
It’s unclear as to how Epic is able to make this kind of offer, and whether it’s somehow being done with the mobile stores’ blessing or is some kind of rogue operation. If it’s the former, it might be a “test case” that the companies are agreeing upon to see how well it’s received, with the possibility of making such changes for other games in the future. If it’s the latter, you’d have to wonder how the stores would allow Fortnite to operate, effectively for free, on their platforms. Even the Epic Games Store collects some revenue (12%) from its partners. We’ll wait and see if Google or Epic take any action, and if they don’t, we’ll have to assume this is being done with their consent.
One of the major reasons Google cited as to why it required all purchases to go through their store (and collect a fee) was the security it offered. Epic Games has gone into great detail to explain its security measures for Epic direct payment in an FAQ.
The new discount is not available in all countries at this time. Players who purchased V-Bucks between July 14 and Aug. 13 will receive a bonus voucher equal to 20% of the total purchases during that time. In addition, Epic is offering a free Shooting Starstaff Pickaxe to all players. Learn more about this offer on the Fortnite website.
UPDATE 1 (Mike Byrne): That didn’t last long! Jason’s speculation above proved to be true and the move was apparently made without Apple’s blessing leading to the game being removed from the App Store. A statement given to The Verge says that Apple would like to work this out with Epic Games, but they won’t be making any special arrangements for the title. Their statement below coincides with Fortnite being removed from the store. We’ll keep you update on any response Google decides to make now that Apple stepping in first.
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 it’s 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.
UPDATE 2 (3:43 PM Eastern, 8/13/2020) (Mike Byrne): Epic Games has already filed with US Courts for Injunctive Relief from Apple’s actions. In the 65 page filing (that just HAD to be sitting ready to go awaiting a move from Apple), Epic circles back on previous publically made arguments that the Apple store has become a “behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” and that Apple removed Fortnite “rather than tolerate this healthy competition and compete on the merits of its offering.”
UPDATE 3 (4:13 PM Eastern, 8/13/2020) (Mike Byrne): Fortnite just held an in-game event showcasing their “Nineteen Eighty Fortnite” short spoofing the iconic 1984 Apple advertisement unveiling the Macintosh and introducing the #freefortnite tag to social media. Looks like Epic was 100% ready for this fight…well considering they started it I would hope they were, but this might be treading into really sad territory with two huge corporations slapping each other like this while both try to tout their point of view as “consumer” or “developer” friendly.
UPDATE 4 (8:22 PM Eastern, 8/13/2020) (Jason Winter): Google has also kicked Fortnite off of the Play Store. While you can still play the game on Android devices, via other stores that legally operate there or by downloading the game directly from Epic, Epic’s new deal apparently ran afoul of Google’s mandate that products on the Play Store that offer in-game purchases cannot bypass the store.