What does Epic’s battle with Apple mean for players?
Epic Games have fallen out with Apple, and then shortly after Google too. After allowing users to buy cheaper V-bucks that bypass Apple and Google’s service fees on their stores, both Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their marketplaces, sending a clear message: if we can’t have some of the money, nobody gets anything.
Or at least, that’s the narrative that Epic is putting in place. Epic is making Apple especially out to be this evil megacorporation which is taking games away from you if you don’t give them money. In reality, license and transaction fees on marketplaces for digital goods are standard across every marketplace – Epic is just mad because they can’t make an alternative iOS store the way they can on PC and Android.
So they have put on an incredibly performative show, complete with pre-prepared takedown trailers and legal action which frame Epic as a small, humble company under the boot of a tech giant. In reality, it’s the worst adaptation of Clash of the Titans yet. But this clash of corporate might has only one victim: the end-users, you, the gamers. So the question is, what is the next step, and what does this mean for you?
Well, we’re going to take a quick look at both the short term and long term effects this will have on Fortnite and Epic Games, but regardless, you have no reason to fear that your favourite game is going to go away forever. That simply will not happen. Though you might be waiting a while before you can play it on iOS devices again…
If you’re on Android, then this will not affect you much, luckily. Fortnite is long gone from the Google Play Store, so downloading it is a little more awkward, but there are other options, which we’ve specified in this guide.
Just know that Android users are on the lucky end here. We’ve already said that Epic can’t open up an alternative app store on iOS, but they are free to do so on Android, and as such you will always be able to download and play Fortnite, even if it’s not through the Google Play Store. This also allows Epic to keep receiving all of the money from your purchases, so that’s a bonus for them.
But things are far more complicated on iOS. Epic previously had a great relationship with Apple which saw the birth of the Infinity Blade series, a trilogy of action games exclusive to iOS devices, removed from the store in recent years. The relationship that spawned that series not so long ago has been completely soured by Epic’s recent actions.
The short story, and short term consequences, is that you won’t be able to download Fortnite on iOS devices right now, and it’ll be a while until you can. The game will work if you already have it downloaded, but that isn’t guaranteed for long.
But also, you will be able to benefit from this “20% discount” Epic has placed on V-bucks for the foreseeable future – it would certainly shed doubt on Epic’s claims if they didn’t keep the discount – so if The long term
Epic hasn’t launched legal action against Google as of the time of writing, but they have against Apple. Epic is happy with the fact that they can have users sideload the Epic Games app and download Fortnite there, so there isn’t a problem. But their relationship with Apple is permanently soured.
It’s not just the “dodging service fees” thing – it’s the campaign that has followed, including the in-game trailer decrying Apple. This is, somehow, more brutal than the character assassination that Sega enacted on Mario in the 90s, and much more official.
This is a point of no return, and when you throw the legal action into the mix, it would seem that Apple’s ties with Epic have officially been severed. You can still play Fortnite on iOS if you had already had it downloaded, but once an update is necessary, it’s possible you’ll be cut off from access permanently.
Following this lawsuit, it’s likely that you won’t see Fortnite on iOS devices again. That’s my prediction. The other possibility is that Apple may be forced to allow alternate ways of loading apps on their devices. Though I see this as highly unlikely, and previous legal action between platform holders and software publishers have not often ended in favour of the software publisher. Epic may be barking up the wrong tree on this one, and the most likely outcome seems to be Fortnite just being entirely unplayable on iOS.
If this ends badly for Epic, then it ends badly for those playing on iOS. Epic are entirely willing to have their iOS player base be a casualty for their public lawsuit. And that is insane, and quite frankly, you shouldn’t have a game publisher use you either as legal leverage or as an angry mob online, just because you’re a fan.