Apple has removed Fortnite from its App Store following legal action from Fornite’s owner Epic. The games maker has also released a parody suggesting Apple is behaving like 1984’s Big Brother in its actions.
The move came after a Fortnite update that lets players buy in-game currency at a lower rate if they buy directly from maker Epic Games – bypassing Apple in the process.
In a stunning lawsuit against Apple, Epic accused Apple on nine counts of illegally trouncing competitors to its App Store and the “tax” the company requires developers to pay.
“Apple has become what it once railed against,” Epic’s lawsuit said. “The behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation.” Apple takes a standard 30% cut of sales from its compulsory payment system.
Hours later, Google also appeared to remove the app from its Google Play Store – though it remains available on Android phones through Epic Games’ own launcher.
On iOS, the App Store is the only way to legitimately load apps. But Apple said Epic had taken the “unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines”.
Those guidelines ban any payment system apart from Apple’s own, and has been the subject of several high-profile rows between developers and Apple.
In addition to the legal action, Epic also announced the imminent in-game screening of a short film titled Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite – a parody of George Orwell’s famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The novel is about a dystopian society that controls its citizens and tolerates no dissent – and somewhat ironically was itself referenced by Apple in a famous television ad in the year 1984, when the young company styled itself as taking on then-dominant IBM.
In “Nineteen Eighty Fortnite”, Big Brother has been replaced by a rotting apple, wearing sunglasses unmistakeable similar to those sported by Apple’s chief Tim Cook.
Founded in 1992, Epic is now one of the world’s most influential gaming companies. Fortnite is free to download and play, but brings in billions of dollars a year through the sale of cosmetic items for its colourful avatars.
It also has its own software portal for buying games on computers, and owns the Unreal engine, one of the most widely-used pieces of software for making games. Last week it became worth $17.3bn (£13.2bn) after a $1.8bn funding round.