There's an epic battle afoot between Epic Games and Apple, after the computing and device giant booted the popular game Fortnite out of the Apple App Store for a policy violation. Now Epic is boldly using Apple's own brand history against them, taking the iconic "1984"-themed Super Bowl ad that defined Apple three decades ago as the brand that supported individuality in the face of PC tyranny, with an animated version that casts Apple as the evil Big Brother trying to suppress the little guy.
Just to back up, on Thursday morning, Epic unveiled a new in-app payment option for Fortnite that — in violation of both Apple and Google policy — skirts the commission fees taken by the owners of app stores by offering customers a 20-percent discount if they pay Epic directly, instead of through the Apple or Android App Store.
Epic is joining a widening fight over what many say are exorbitant fees being charged for use of the Apple App Store — with Spotify and Match Group voicing similar complaints. In late 2018, Netflix notably removed the ability for customers to sign up for the service through its iOS app in order to avoid continuing to pay the so-called "Apple tax," which constitutes kickbacks in perpetuity for any of those customers' subscription fees. By that point, it was estimated Netflix had paid Apple about $1.5 billion in such fees.
Today, as The Verge explains, Epic said in its FAQs that it wants to allow consumer choice and to pass the savings on to consumers if they bypass Apple in their payments. And, the company notes, "Thousands of apps on the App Store approved by Apple accept direct payments, including commonly used apps like Amazon, Grubhub, Nike SNKRS, Best Buy, DoorDash, Fandango, McDonalds, Uber, Lyft, and StubHub. We think all developers should be free to support direct payments in all apps."
Apple responded swiftly, as The Verge reports, removing Fortnite from the App Store within a few hours, and issuing this statement:
Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem - including its 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.
Obviously, Epic was prepared for this fight, and had the ad shown below in the hopper, set to throw this all back in Apple's face.
The ad concludes with a statement on the screen: "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." You can read more on Epic's position in the fight here.
As The Verge notes, Google has yet to move to remove Fortnite from the Android store. And Apple says it would like to resolve the issue with Epic, but there will be no "special arrangement" for them.