In a statement to The Verge today, Apple announced they had booted Epic Games' ludicrously successful game Fortnite off the App Store.
The full statement reads as follows:
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.
The change Apple is referring to involves payment processing for Fortnite's V-bucks in-game currency. Typically, 1000 V-bucks would cost a consumer $9.99, with Apple getting 30% of that purchase. Epic laid out an alternate payment path, letting consumers buy 1000 V-bucks for $7.99 buying directly from Epic. Arguably, Epic is making a little more money handling the payments directly, but the cost to consumers is directly reduced, which is not inconsequential.
Epic has chafed under the restrictions imposed on it by both Apple and Google. While they ultimately came to terms with Google, CEO Tim Sweeney has not been happy or quiet about the matter. Last week, in light of Apple's rejection of Project xCloud from the App Store, Sweeney took to Twitter to denounce Apple's position. "The principle they state, taken literally, would rule out all cross-platform ecosystems and games with user-created modes: not just XCloud, Stadia, and GeForce NOW, but also Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox," he wrote.
It's possible that Epic has attempted to undergo the process for challenging App Store guidelines and come away frustrated. But given that the 30% cut of all transactions is dealing with revenue rather than content, it's equally likely that Epic knew such a challenge would be unsuccessful and threw down the gauntlet in a different fashion. While nobody is going to be overly worried about Epic's bottom line regarding this matter, it's decidedly a bad look for Apple at this moment, particularly with EU antitrust regulators conducting investigations into its business practices.