In a legal battle that could reshape the future of antitrust law, Epic Games is suing both Apple and Google for pulling its ubiquitous battle royale Fortnite from their respective App Store and Google Play Store. Apple and Google believe Epic has violated their store rules by circumventing the 30% platform fee with their own direct payment method on mobile.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has long voiced his opinion that 30% fees on digital storefronts are outdated, which is why Epic Games’ own PC store only takes a 12% cut. Epic even launched a #FreeFortnite social media campaign in the vein of Apple’s ground-breaking Super Bowl ad and classic George Orwell-inspired film 1984 to rally its 250 million player base worldwide. Things got even uglier when Apple decided to revoke Epic’s permissions to develop tools on iOS and Mac, which could have a direct impact on any developers using Unreal Engine on those platforms – rival battle royale PUBG Mobile, for example, runs on Unreal Engine. This week, however, a district court ordered Apple to stop blocking distribution of Unreal Engine but did not compel the company to reinstate Fortnite, noting that Epic has “not yet demonstrated irreparable harm.”
Apple has said that it “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.” Epic, meanwhile, contends that it’s fighting on behalf of developers. For all its success, Epic is still dwarfed by Apple, which just became the first US company to reach a $2 trillion market cap.
While the fight drags on, gamers who value cross-play across mobile platforms will unfortunately be missing out. It’s unclear exactly what proportion of the Fortnite user base is playing on Android vs. iPhone, but ownership data from Interpret’s NMM: Global Profiles® does give us some idea. More than two-thirds (68%) of Fortnite players globally currently own an Android smartphone compared to 47% who own an iPhone. Similarly, Android has a commanding lead when it comes to the battle royale genre on mobile, with 75% of those who play battle royale games on mobile platforms indicating that they own an Android phone compared to just 40% who own an iPhone.