In a statement to The Verge, Apple said Epic Games violated the App Store guidelines by enabling an unapproved feature.
The feature in question seems to be the new iOS update Epic released that allowed users to purchase its in-app currency for lower prices through Epic’s payment system. By using an independent payment system, it enabled Epic to circumvent the 30% tax Apple imposes on in-app purchases.
In response, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, citing a violation of its guidelines. Apple previously faced criticism from developers in June over its 30% tax on in-app purchases. In a statement, Apple said:
“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 Games filed a lawsuit against Apple to dispute the action, and in it, the company mentioned Bitcoin.
In the suit, Epic Games argued that Apple’s policy “eliminates” innovation and alternative payment options, citing Bitcoin as one of those payment options. The firm’s lawsuit reads:
“These innovations could include, for example, alternative means to pay for in-app purchases of in-app content—which Apple does not offer—such as billing to the customer’s cellular carrier, using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, offering rewards points to customers, or providing more than one in-app payment processor. Apple’s anti-competitive conduct eliminates all of these innovations and alternative payment options.”
Samson Mow, a game industry executive and the creator of Infinite Fleet, commented that most game companies have no choice but to comply with Apple’s policies due to the company’s powerful global platform.
Most game companies can’t stand the 30% Apple tax, but they have little power to do anything about it. There’s even hesitation to offer ANY payment options on external websites for fear of reprisals which could include having your game barred from being ‘Featured.’
Mow emphasized that if Epic Games wins the lawsuit, Apple could lose a big portion of their in-app purchase revenues:
If any game company can go up against Apple and stand a chance, it’s Epic Games. Apple also has a lot to lose here too. A win for Epic would mean they lose a huge chunk of their IAP revenues, not just from Fortnite, but potentially for all games on their platform.