“Fortnite” Mobile: where did it go and why? Epic Games has never been afraid to take risks. Thus, their flagship title “Fortnite” has become one of the most popular video games in the world
“Fortnite” Mobile: Where Did It Go and Why?
Epic Games has never been afraid to take risks. Thus, their flagship title “Fortnite” has become one of the most popular video games in the world, with over 350 million registered accounts worldwide.
This time, however, Epic’s risk taking resulted in their most popular game being removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Fortnite may not be available on the Google Play Store, but is still available on Epic. Here’s how to load the official app from the side and jump back in.
A warning before we start
Fortnite used to be a huge hit on both the Apple & App Store and the Google Play Store. But after an update that allowed players to make in-app purchases directly from Epic, Apple and Google immediately launched the game from their stores. Perform a search – the official game will not be displayed. Instead, you’ll find unofficial clones on the Google Play Store.
While some may be harmless, others may be malicious applications that try to steal your personal information. Be aware of what you are downloading.
If your goal is to only download the official Fortnite app for Android, read on.
Epic Games is suing the iPhone manufacturer for violating antitrust laws.
Discovering and explaining how our digital world is changing – and it changes us.
Fortnite has released its latest season, but millions of players will not be able to enjoy it: the game has been pulled from the Apple App Store, making iOS and macOS users unable to update to the long-awaited Season 4 with more than one update, one game, and even one company. Apple’s Fortnite user base is the latest victim in a long-standing antitrust battle between developers and one of the richest companies in the world.
Epic Games sued Apple in mid-August, claiming the company’s App Store practices violate the Sherman Act. Epic says Apple’s requirement that all mobile apps be provided through its App Store (and Apple’s 30 percent commission for app sales and in-app purchases) is a monopoly and that Epic – like other developers and their customers – should have alternatives. On September 8, Apple responded and asked a federal judge to award him damages.
Apple, the $ 2 trillion company, not only refused to consider changing its lucrative business model, but also kicked Fortnite out of the App Store. Apple also wanted to cut Epic’s access to its development tools program, which would affect all applications that use Epic’s Unreal Engine. While the court upheld Epic’s request for a temporary restraining order that prevented Apple from doing so pending a hearing next month, it wouldn’t force Apple to bring Fortnite back to the App Store. So the game remains banned, making iOS and macOS players unable to update their apps to the season 4 just released. It also means they can only play with other Apple users who are also stuck in season 3, just like the rest of the Fortnite community update to the new season. For its part, Apple said Fortnite will be able to return to the App Store if and when it complies with the store’s terms and conditions.
As Peter Kafka from Recode explained, applications for Apple mobile devices must go through the company’s App Store, which charges a 30% commission for app purchases, as well as for any purchases made in the app itself. As a freemium game, Fortnite makes all the money through in-app purchases of virtual currency, and Apple gets some of it. When Epic tried to work around this by offering customers the option to buy Fortnite currency directly from Epic at a discount, Apple kicked Fortnite out of the store for violating its terms of service. Epic responded with a lawsuit, joining a growing chorus of developers and policymakers who accused the App Store of monopoly practices, given total control over the apps offered on its devices. And now Apple is responding with its own lawsuit.
At a hearing scheduled for September 28, a judge will decide whether Epic will receive a preliminary court order that will force Apple to return Fortnite to the App Store. And this is certainly just the beginning of a protracted legal battle. The result of all of this could significantly change the app ecosystem Apple has helped create, perhaps to the benefit of developers and consumers. But now everyone is losing.
The App Store can be mutually beneficial to Apple and app developers
When the App Store was launched on iPhones in 2008, it was considered beneficial. Developers would have easy access to Apple users as well as the tools to build and sell the apps they’ve made – all of this was especially good for small developers who wouldn’t have the resources otherwise. In return, Apple would get a rapidly growing list of apps to offer to its customers and a steady stream of commission cash that lowered the purchase price of paid apps as well as in-app purchases. This concept has largely been successful. The App Store now offers millions of apps, and Apple says it generated over $ 500 billion in 2019 alone, most of which was not subject to a 30 percent commission. Apple is taking down in-app purchases and paid apps.
Because the App Store is the only way consumers can download apps to their iOS devices, Apple was free to set any policy and set any price for all app purchases. Therefore, app developers have to agree to them, otherwise they will lose access to hundreds of millions of potential customers. Developers have been complaining about this for years, but they haven’t had much of a turning back. As Epic recently found out, if you break the rules, you’ll be banned.
The developers also accused Apple of using their inner knowledge of which apps are doing well to inform their own decisions about which native apps to develop. Many of these Apple-made apps are preloaded on iOS devices and cannot be deleted, and are shipped to customers in a way that is not available in third-party versions. Apple is also giving its native apps access to certain features, such as Siri, that third-party apps don’t have, although the company has recently made efforts to provide access to third-party apps.
These complaints, which have been brewing for years, now come to the fore as a handful of major developers protest against the alleged monopoly.
Developers are fighting back
Epic isn’t the only company to complain about the App Store. Spotify was especially loud. The Swedish music streaming platform filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission in March 2019, claiming it was forced to raise in-app subscription rates to compensate for Apple’s fee. (Subscription services like Spotify charge a 30 percent commission for the first year, followed by 15 percent.) Spotify also claimed that Apple created its own rival music streaming service, Apple Music, after seeing Spotify’s success on its platform.
In response to Spotify’s complaint, the European Commission announced in June 2020 that it was investigating Apple into antitrust violations. If the company is found to have violated the EC’s antitrust laws, the consequences for Apple could be severe: a fine of up to 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue.
Legal problems have also arisen in the United States. A few months after Spotify’s complaint in June 2019, U.S developers sued Apple, arguing that its rules and lack of an alternative to the app store had given the company an unfair monopoly and raised prices. This is after a May 2019 Supreme Court ruling gave the go-ahead to a class action lawsuit filed by iPhone owners accusing the Apple App Store of violating antitrust laws. If Apple loses the lawsuit – or decides to settle – the company could face a massive payoff for millions of App Store customers. Apple may also decide to change App Store policies to avoid more lawsuits and payouts.
As for Epic, it has long criticized the app store commissions in general. The company even declined to offer Fortnite on the Google Play Store until April 2020, but since Android doesn’t force users to download apps through that store, Android users can still get the game. This has not been possible for Apple customers, and Fortnite has been in the App Store since 2018. According to the Wall Street Journal, the game was downloaded on over 130 million Apple devices and generated $ 1.2 billion in App Store spending a tidy sum for Epic and Apple, but apparently not enough for Epic.
on Aug. 13, Epic basically ventured Apple and Google to ban Fortnite from their stores, offering users the option to purchase virtual currency from Epic in-app, violating both companies’ policies. Both companies responded with a Fortnite ban. Epic responded by suing both companies. He also mobilized his user base on social media by posting a cheeky video and encouraging users to share the hashtag #FreeFortnite.
Following the lawsuit by Epic, Facebook – which has its own antitrust issues – jumped into fashion, claiming that the Apple tax would hurt sites and businesses using Facebook’s new paid events feature. Facebook is urging Apple to temporarily waive its commission as Facebook is forgoing its own commission for the new feature for a year by donating any proceeds from paid events to the sites that offer them. The social media giant has formulated this as a way to help companies struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the result that Apple’s refusal to waive the fee could be seen as detrimental to these companies.
The App Store advantage
Apple says the App Store’s 30 percent commission helps cover the costs associated with hosting the app. This includes peace of mind as requiring consumers to download apps directly from the App Store helps the company ensure they meet certain standards and are safe – which is especially important when it comes to things like credit card information.
The origins of the 30 percent cut stem from a cut Apple took from iTunes sales – 30 percent to 40 percent per song. When the App Store was launched, then-CEO Steve Jobs said a 30 percent commission was needed for the “running fee” and that Apple “did not intend to make money from it.” This may have been true in 2008, when the App Store launched with several hundreds of apps, but Apple is now making billions in App Store commissions each year.
Apple also maintains that the vast majority of App Store apps are free, meaning most apps use the App Store ecosystem without giving Apple anything back. Free apps usually make money from advertising and selling their data to third parties, which Apple does not use. Apple also pointed out in a recent study it commissioned that its commission is on par with the rest of the industry. However, this ignores the fact that the industry was primarily Apple and that other app stores have followed suit by setting their own commissions.
What this means for customers
What does all of this mean for you, the Apple App Store client? Right now, that means you can’t download Fortnite or, if you already have it, you can’t download the update – meaning you can’t play the new season 4. You can still play season 3, but your opponents will be limited to other Apple players. Anyone with a non-iOS device that has an updated app will move to Season 4, and battles between seasons are impossible. Players who use other platforms will also be affected if they cannot play with friends on Apple devices. How long this takes depends on which company blinks first and agrees to the other side’s demands – or which company wins if it continues long enough to reach the courtroom.
In addition to Fortnite, Apple users can also pay inflated prices for paid apps and in-app purchases that have been set so that developers can account for a 30% commission. Since some developers have chosen to opt out of in-app purchases entirely to avoid paying Apple’s commission, you may have taken the extra step of paying for app subscriptions on developer websites rather than through the apps themselves. Apple allows this for so-called “reading apps” such as Spotify and Netflix, but Fortnite is not eligible. Apple’s policies also don’t make it easy for customers to figure out how:
A decent chance we imagine a conflict. It’s a little hard to imagine Disney doing anything to irritate Apple under all circumstances. See how silent Spotify must be pic.twitter.com/Rz24WQOZwV
– Peter Kafka (@pkafka) August 15, 2020
As you can see after removing Fortnite from its store, Apple is on its heels and defends these rules. But the company did give way at times – for example, allowing “premium” video providers like Amazon Prime Video to use their own payment systems for in-app purchases and avoiding a 30 percent commission. (It remains to be seen whether providers such as Disney, which debuted on September 4 with their “Premier Access” for Disney + subscribers with a $ 29.99 Mulan loan fee, will qualify or be forced to pay a commission or take advantage of Spotify routes to bypass in-app purchases.)
As part of a slight relaxation of the status quo, the upcoming iOS 14 will allow users to set third-party apps as their default email and web browsing apps for the first time. But these concessions have also sparked complaints from developers that Apple’s guidelines are being arbitrarily enforced with some companies taking precedence over others.
None of this looks good for Apple as antitrust investigations into the case, both in the US and abroad, are gathering pace. Senator Elizabeth Warren helped lead this fee, saying in March 2019 that Apple should choose between selling an app or offering an app store. Both give the company an unfair advantage over its competitors.
“Apple and Google are harassing competitors who only need their platform to exist while favoring their own products and services,” said Warren Recode. “If we let the companies act as both a referee and one of the rival teams, they will continue to set the game to their advantage.”
In January 2020, the CEOs of several smaller companies testified before the House of Representatives’ antitrust subcommittee that tech giants, including Apple, have so much control and power that they usually own the market and sell their own products, which prevents other companies from competing.
“After years of living in fear, more and more companies and small businesses are starting to talk about the monopoly power of technology giants.” – Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a well-known thorn at Big. The technical side, said Recode. “Technology platforms pose a serious threat to innovation and entrepreneurship. Developers and small businesses are starting to tell their stories – and more than anything else, this is fueling the momentum in Congress and showing how much antitrust agencies have to do to make up for lost time.”
One way Apple can avoid antitrust regulation – and keep Epic Games happy – is by allowing its mobile devices to obtain apps outside of the App Store, just like Android does. This can give developers more money and allow them to burden less on users. But it also introduces new threats to users if alternative app stores do not have the same security standards as Apple or its in-app purchasing system.
Consumers trust Apple, and it has a proven track record. Apple apps don’t have nearly as many security and malware problems as Android apps. One of the reasons Apple’s reputation for security is so much better is because the company tries to control every aspect of its devices, including the apps and security measures they are forced to put in place. Consumers pay a premium for it, and so do developers.
There is also the possibility that Apple may be able to insist on continuing to operate normally. Developers will have to decide if the Apple Tax is worth accessing to Apple consumers. If enough of them remove their apps from the store, consumers may decide to purchase a device with a different operating system that gives them access to apps that are not offered by the App Store. If they remain, the big cut from Apple could mean less money for the developer to spend on improving existing apps or building more of them, or that customers are paying more than they would otherwise if the App Store had some competition.
Apple, which used to be primarily a commodity company, is increasingly becoming a service company – meaning its revenues are increasingly coming from those services rather than sales. Cutting off some of this income by providing an alternative to the App Store for developers or lowering commissions will likely force the company to make up for that money otherwise. And the customer always pays for it, one way or another.
Update September 8 3pm EST: This story has been updated with new details about the legal action between Apple and Epic Games.
Peter Kafka contributed to this story.
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