- The new Fortnite Season 4 update is not available on iPhone, iPad, or Android, as Apple and Google both banned the app a few weeks ago.
- Epic Games’ conflict with Apple received more prominent coverage, as Apple warned the game studio that it would terminate Epic’s developer account if the Fortnite violations were not fixed.
- Apple “went nuclear,” just as it said it would, and made good on its promise to ban Epic after the company failed to roll back changes that violate Apple’s terms.
- Gamers who want to play the game’s new season on mobile devices are out of luck, as there are only a few limited ways to get it.
Apple banned Fortnite from the App Store just over two weeks ago, after Epic Games quietly updated its popular game to display an alternate payment option on iPhone and iPad. Epic breached its contractual obligations with Apple and made big waves about it, hoping to elicit the response it eventually got. Epic then mocked Apple and immediately filed its antitrust suit against the iPhone maker. Epic used the same playbook with Google, though it didn’t manage to stir up similar drama. Google then banned Fortnite on Android.
It’s unclear whether Epic expected Apple to go the extra mile, but Apple certainly did. On the same day it removed Fortnite from the App Store, the company gave Epic two weeks to fix its app or risk having its entire developer account blocked. On top of that, Apple also wanted to take similar action against another Epic account that manages the Unreal Engine resources used by other game makers. Epic sued (again), looking for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented Apple from harming its developer accounts or Fortnite. The judge unsurprisingly sided with Apple on the Fortnite front, saying the whole mess is entirely Epic’s fault. But Epic won when it comes to Unreal Engine, which the judge essentially deemed a bridge too far for Apple. The verdict is temporary, as the two will face off during a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for September 28th.
After Monday’s ruling, Epic kept spewing lies about the events that unfolded right before our eyes, making it sound like Apple is to blame, and that’s the reason why the Fortnite experience will be ruined on iPhone and Mac. It even emailed those lies to Fortnite players. But once the deadline came, Apple did what it said it would do. Fortnite has been banned on iPhone and Mac, just like it should be.
Before Apple terminated Epic’s account on Friday, Fortnite was still available for download on iPhones and iPads that had the app installed at any point in the past. Now that the Epic developer account is gone, the app can’t be reinstalled.
With the removal of Epic’s developer account, you can no longer redownload Fortnite on iOS pic.twitter.com/mMmLMDm2Vz
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) August 28, 2020
If you have Fortnite on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can still play the game, but you won’t progress beyond Season 3 — Season 4 just launched earlier this year, bringing new Marvel content to fans. Also of note, remaining Fortnite players on iOS or macOS won’t be able to play with people on other platforms.
Infinity Blade is gone too:
Apple confirmed it to us. It’s gone. We checked; you can’t re-download Fortnite anymore… or the Infinity Blade games, for that matter.
Apple’s full statement here: https://t.co/QFduaXhkvV
— Sean Hollister (@StarFire2258) August 28, 2020
If you’re considering switching to Android to play Fortnite, you’d be out of luck. The game isn’t available from the Play store either, as Google banned the game as well. You can sideload the game from Epic’s servers, or you can download it from Samsung’s app store if you have access to it.
Apple explained in a statement what happened since Monday’s verdict. Epic submitted three updates to Fortnite, but none of them included the fix. That is to say Epic still sincluded its own payment mechanism inside the Fortnite app update that would have brought gamers Season 4 content:
We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.
Epic’s Tim Sweeney responded swiftly via Twitter, saying that Apple’s statement isn’t “forthright,” and that Apple didn’t “have” to terminate Epic’s developer account.
Apple’s statement isn’t forthright. They chose to terminate Epic’s account; they didn’t *have* to.
Apple suggests we spammed the App Store review process. That’s not so. Epic submitted three Fortnite builds: two bug-fix updates, and the Season 4 update with this note. pic.twitter.com/VpWEERDp5L
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 28, 2020
Of course, Epic didn’t “have” to break App Store rules and demand to get away with it. Epic didn’t “have” to engineer this entire ordeal just to try to rally gamers while it sues Apple. Epic didn’t “have” to lie to gamers about the whole thing. In fact, Epic doesn’t “have” to offer any of its games on mobile devices if it refuses to abide by the rules on mobile platforms.
Interesting stats from Sensor Tower: Epic’s titles have been downloaded from the App Store 159 million times since Jan. 2012 = $1.2 billion in spend, $360 million to Apple. https://t.co/dYwrCO0Qsa
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) August 28, 2020
As with the previous coverage of the Epic vs. Apple mess, I’ll remind you that the primary fight between these two companies is still to come. And the antitrust case may have implications on both companies’ bottom lines — it could even ultimately force Apple to change its business practices. Regardless of what happens on September 28th, it’s the bigger picture that matters the most. The 30% “Apple tax” is a sensitive topic for many developers, and the App Store rules may need to change for the next decade of mobile app development. Whatever happens in that fight, Epic will be at the center of it and the lawsuit could send ripples through the industry. This will never change the fact that Epic broke the rules for its own gain and then lied about it repeatedly. The company didn’t “have” to, it chose to.