PUBG Mobile received some beneficial promotion as Apple and Epic Games continue fighting over Fortnite.
Twitter user Mike Beasley spotted an editorial about PUBG Mobile headlining the App Store’s ‘Today’ page on August 28th, the same day Apple said it would terminate Epic’s Fortnite developer account. That editorial also tops the App Store in Canada.
Fortnite and PUBG are competitors — both games offer the popular battle royale experience, which tasks players with gathering resources and weapons to be the last one standing on an ever-shrinking battlefield. The games also differ quite a bit in style and mechanics, but the foundation is the same.
The App Store story about PUBG specifically details the game’s upcoming ‘Version 1.0’ launch on September 8th, and goes over details about a revamped map and improved graphics. Although the editorial doesn’t have anything to do with Apple, Epic or Fortnite, it’s likely no coincidence that PUBG is headlining the App Store right now.
Epic’s feud with Apple about more than in-app payments
Apple recently booted Fortnite off the App Store after Epic added a direct payment system to the title, which gave players a discount on in-game purchases if they bought directly from Epic instead of using Apple’s in-app purchase system. The move was part of a larger protest of Apple’s in-app purchase system. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of payments processed through the system while using the App Store guidelines to prohibit competing payment systems. Epic did the same thing with Fortnite on Android, which led Google to remove the game from the Play Store.
Apple’s 30 percent cut and its use of App Store rules as a cudgel to keep developers inline form the basis for Epic’s lawsuit, which accuses the iPhone-maker of using its control over the ecosystem to prop up a monopoly. Many argued that Epic ‘got what it deserved’ when Apple removed Fortnite for breaking the rules. However, that ignores the actual concern of how Apple enforces its rules and whether those rules help the company maintain a monopoly.
Amid the ongoing legal feud, others have struggled with Apple. A group of news publishers petitioned Apple for a similar deal to what the company gave Amazon — a reduction in the 30 percent cut taken from subscriptions. Apple also reportedly locked the WordPress iOS app, preventing new updates unless the developer added in-app purchases so Apple could get its 30 percent cut. The company later walked that decision back and allowed the developer to remove a reference to WordPress’ subscriptions.
Apple threatened Epic’s Unreal Engine developer account — PUBG Mobile uses Unreal Engine
As for Epic, Apple responded to the lawsuit by threatening to remove the company’s developer accounts. Beyond just Fortnite, that could impact Epic’s Unreal Engine, which is used to make games (including PUBG Mobile), movies and more. A judge ruled that Apple couldn’t target Epic’s other developer accounts in this way, but also decided Apple didn’t have to return Fortnite to the App Store. Apple argued that Fortnite’s removal was Epic’s fault and that if Epic removed direct payments, it would allow the game back on the store.
Epic responded in turn, saying it would not remove the payment method as it would help Apple “maintain their monopoly over in-app payments on iOS.”
The result is that Fortnite, which remains available on iOS for people who had the game installed or previously installed, and remains playable, hasn’t received the most recent update and new season of content. Players on Apple devices also can’t cross-play with people on other systems. For all intents and purposes, Fortnite on Apple devices is a dead game.
Fortnite’s current situation on iOS makes the promotion of competitor PUBG Mobile seem like an intentional move from Apple. It remains to be seen if PUBG benefits from the Fortnite ban, or if gamers stay loyal to Epic’s battle royale.