Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store

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Update: In response to Epic's decision to implement an in-app payment system in Fortnite that bypasses Apple, Apple has removed the game from the App Store.

"Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users," Apple said in a statement sent to The Verge. "As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.

"Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem—including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we're glad they've built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store."

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has been an outspoken critic of Apple's closed systems, and this new payment option was obviously designed to encourage users to bypass Apple's payment system (and its 30 percent cut). It was an aggressive move by Epic, and this is a very big and aggressive response from Apple. 

What happens next is anyone's guess, but Epic doesn't appear ready to back down: It just teased a new short, Nineteen-Eight Fortnite, which will debut at 4 pm ET today—and which appears to be a reference to this famed Apple ad.

I've reached out to Epic for comment and will update if I receive a reply.

Original story: Epic Games has permanently reduced the cost of Fortnite's V-Bucks currency, providing as you buy it through one of its preferred payment methods. From today, any V-Bucks you purchase on PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox or Switch will be discounted automatically by "up to 20 percent".

V-Bucks should cost less on mobile from today as well. Epic is introducing its own payment method, Epic direct payment, that plans to circumvent Apple and Google's usual 30 percent fee.

You won't get the saving if you buy V-Bucks on iOS or Android via the App Store or Google Play, but a post on the Fortnite site explains that "if Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you". You can find out more about Epic direct payment in this official blog post.

The price cuts feel like a catapult pointedly aimed at Google and Apple, and a better exchange rate on a virtual currency is good for players. Additionally, if you've purchased V-Bucks in the last 30 days (between July 14 and August 13), Epic will give you 20 percent of your total purchase back as a V-Bucks bonus.

V-Bucks aside, Epic is giving all active Fortnite players a free pickaxe. The Shooting Starstaff Pickaxe is pretty much as you might imagine: a shooting star somehow made into a pickaxe, as you can see below.

(Image credit: Epic Games)
Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.