Google has removed Fortnite from the Play Store, following Apple’s suit

Epic's new direct payment method for Fortnite has led both Apple and Google to de-list the game from their respective storefronts

Shortly after being removed from Apple’s App Store, massively popular battle royale game Fortnite has also been pulled from the Google Play Store.

In a statement to The Verge, a Google spokesperson stated that Epic’s new monetization practices for Fortnite violate its Play Store policies.

Earlier today, Epic rolled out a new in-game direct payment system to Fortnite on Android and iOS that offers a 20 percent discount on the ‘V-Bucks’ virtual currency. This allowed Epic to circumvent the App Store and Play Store’s 30 percent price cut policies for any mobile game purchases.

Apple quickly retaliated by removing Fortnite from its App Store, citing a violation of its policies, and now, Google is doing the same.

See below for Google’s statement, as per The Verge:

“The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”

Epic is instead pointing players to its website, where Fortnite can still be downloaded on Android through the Epic Games app or Samsung’s Galaxy Store on Samsung devices. By comparison, it’s now impossible to download Fortnite on iPhone and iPad unless you’ve already done so.

This isn’t the first time Epic has feuded with Google over Fortnite. In August 2018, the company bypassed the Play Store to launch Fortnite on Android through an APK on its website.

It was only in April 2020 that Epic finally relented and brought Fortnite to the Play Store, although it didn’t mince words when doing so:

Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage. Through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software. As well as restrictive manufacturer, carrier agreements and dealings. Google public relations characterizing third-party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play Store.

Last month, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney also blasted Google and Apple for making up a “duopoly” on mobile that enforce “uncompetitive” policies.

That said, Epic hasn’t yet publicly responded to Fortnite‘s removal from the Play Store. It’s likely that the company will, though, given how strongly it reacted to Apple taking down Fortnite.

In response to Apple’s decision, Epic filed a legal complaint against the Cupertino-based tech giant over “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices” with the App Store.

The company has also been streaming a short film riffing on Apple’s own “1984” Macintosh ad to rally fans against the company through a ‘#FreeFortnite’ movement.

Epic is also not the only company to take issue with Apple’s App Store policies as of late. Spotify has come out to show support of Epic’s antitrust move against Apple.

This follows Microsoft and Facebook’s public criticism of Apple over its business practices as well.

Microsoft blamed Apple for restrictive policies that prevent its xCloud game streaming service from coming to iOS, all while it’s set to launch on Android in September. Facebook, meanwhile, slammed Apple for not allowing instant games in its new Facebook Gaming app on iOS, despite the fact that the Android version of the app has supported these games since launching in April.

Ultimately, though, it remains to be seen whether Apple or Google will change any of their app policies, or when Fortnite will return to the App Store and Play Store.

Update 13/08/2020 9:33pm ET: Epic games has filed a suit against Google related to alleged antitrust violations. The company alleges that Google’s payment restrictions in the Play Store are a monopoly. Epic also filed a similar lawsuit against Apple.

Source: The Verge

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