The game's removal from the App Store came after Epic revealed a new pricing plan for the game's currency, V-Bucks. Across all platforms, the price of V-Bucks was reduced by 20 percent, but players on mobile platforms could only get the new discount if they selected the "Epic direct purchase" option when purchasing the currency. The change essentially means that Epic circumvented Apple's current payment system, which sees 30 percent of each transaction go towards Apple. The "Epic direct purchase" option is cheaper, however, and it also sees the money go directly to Epic without any revenue for Apple.
Shortly after the new system was implemented, Apple removed Fornite for "violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments." The guidelines for the App Store specifically state that even in-app purchases, as V-Bucks are, must still go through Apple. Epic's CEO Tim Sweeney has been vocal about digital storefronts taking a cut, and the company's PC video game store front only takes a 12 percent share of revenue.
"Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market," the lawsuit filed against Apple reads. The video game developer and publisher isn't seeking any monetary damages, but instead filed the suit "to end Apple's dominance over key technology markets, open up the space for progress and ingenuity, and ensure that Apple mobile devices are open to the same competition as Apple's personal computers."
The suit goes on to compare Apple's actions to that of George Orwell's 1984, and the company even went a step further by parodying one of Apple's most iconic commercials. Showcased in the game via Fornite's Party Royale mode, the 1984 commercial reads, "Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming 1984. #FreeFortnite."
The speed at which the commercial aired in Fortnite suggests that Epic Games had a lawsuit ready to go if the game was taken off the App Store.
As CNet reports, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company's 30 percent commission at a congressional antitrust hearing last month, calling it "comparable to or lower than commissions charged by the majority of our competitors." Epic clearly disagrees, and now it has a lot of angry iPhone and iPad gamers, who won't be able to download updates until further notice, on their side.
See reactions to the lawsuit below.