👀 Fortnite gave it’s 350m registered users a novel offer for in-app purchases: they could buy in game currency for $9.99 through Apple, or buy the same amount directly from their website for $7.99. This is strictly against Apple’s rules. Apple requires developers to route payments for most digital goods through the App Store, giving Apple a 30% cut. Apple promptly removed Fortnite from the app store sticking with it’s strict no tolerance approach to off platform transactions.
And then the fun started.
Within minutes, the publisher of the wildly popular Fortnite, Epic, launched a response on two fronts: legal and PR.
On the legal front, Epic produced a 65 page complaint laying out their argument that Apple is a monopoly and that its pricing is unjustified.
For the PR front, they produced a parody
of Apple’s famous “1984” commercial. It has a little over 5m views as of writing this.
It will be hard for Epic to press their better prepared advantage. While they call Apple’s policies abusive and say that they stem from a monopoly, Epic gave users the same payment option on Android, and were promptly removed from the Google Play store too. It’s hard to say that Apple’s behavior is uniquely evil when it’s not unique. Although they could argue that Apple and Google are colluding and that they are both monopolies.
Their PR strategy won’t keep its momentum for long because Apple’s response doesn’t inconvenience current users. Apple removed the game from the App Store but existing users can still play it. So instead of millions of fans being absolutely irate that they can’t access their game and blasting Apple all over social media, Apple is merely inconveniencing future Fortnite fans.
Fortnite is valuable to Apple and Google, but Apple and Google are far more valuable to Epic. Apple and Google have been under fire for these exact complaints for years with nothing coming into effect so far. Over the next 2-3 years I suspect we’ll finally see if Fortnite, Basecamp and others can finally win the war against Apple.
UPDATE: on 01/01/2021 Apple reduces it’s App Store commission from 30% to 15%.