Home US Apple kicks Fortnite out of App Store for challenging payment rules

Apple kicks Fortnite out of App Store for challenging payment rules

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General view of the main stage during the Fortnite World Cup Finals e-sports event at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Flushing, New York, July 26, 2019.

Catalina Fragoso | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

Fortnite, the social shooter made by Epic Games, has been removed from the Apple App Store, the only way to install software on iPhones.

CNBC searched on the App Store in the United States on Thursday and did not find a listing for the game. It was previously available for download earlier in the day. App Store promotions about the game brought up a message that it “cannot connect to App Store.”

“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,” an Apple spokesman told CNBC in a statement. “As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store.

Fortnite was still available on Google’s Play Store on Thursday.

On Thursday, Epic Games challenged not only Apple but Google by introducing a new way to buy digital goods like character outfits and weapons at a discount.

Users who paid Epic Games directly would receive a 20% discount on in-game currency, versus users who paid through Apple’s App Store or Google Play, who would pay a higher amount. On Thursday, in the Fortnite app, clicking on a button to purchase in-game items brings up a browser window and directs the user to input his credit card information into the Epic Games system. This practice is banned by Apple’s App Store. 

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has long criticized Apple for its control of the App Store. In July, he told CNBC that the store was an “absolute monopoly.” In April, in response to news that Apple allowed Amazon to use its own credit card processing in the Prime Video app, he called for “digital stores opening up to payment processing competition.” 

“Apple has locked down and crippled the ecosystem by inventing an absolute monopoly on the distribution of software, on the monetization of software,” Sweeney told CNBC in July. “They are preventing an entire category of businesses and applications from being engulfed in their ecosystem by virtue of excluding competitors from each aspect of their business that they’re protecting.”

Apple’s App Store rules have recently been the focus of congressional scrutiny. In a hearing in July, the House antitrust subcommittee pressed Apple CEO Tim Cook about Apple’s App Store policies.

Developers including Sweeney regularly criticize Apple’s 30% cut of digital goods, saying it is too rich and it makes it difficult to run their businesses profitably. Cook defended Apple’s policies at the hearing and said that if customers don’t like the App Store’s rules, “you can buy a Samsung.” 

Epic Games wants to create its own gaming marketplace that works across platforms, including iPhones, Android, and Windows. One of the Epic Games store’s defining characteristics is that it takes a lower fee from purchases. 

This story is developing.

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