A battle of the titans ensued as Epic Games decided that it would bypass Apple’s payment system within Fortnite Mobile. Epic has implemented their own payment system in the mobile version of Fortnite. This allowed Epic Games to circumvent Apple and Google and avoid the revenue hit altogether. Any application that is hosted on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store must adhere to certain rules. More specifically, the app must must run their payments through Apple or Google. This allows the two tech giants to take 30% of revenue from any in-app purchase.
Almost immediately, Apple removed Fortnite from the app store and Google quickly did the same. Since then, Epic Games has filed suit against Google and Apple for violating antitrust laws.
While significant in scale based on the parties involved, there are other factors that make the implications of this lawsuit even broader. The winner or loser of these lawsuits could be the app developers themselves. If Epic wins this suit, it will eliminate the requirement for developers to run their app purchases through Google and Apple’s proprietary payment services. This will change the landscape of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store significantly. Google and Apple will need to modify their business models to account for the lost revenue. If Epic loses, developers will be locked into using these payment systems now and in the future. There will be little if any ability to change that moving forward. Developers would need to find new ways to distribute their apps outside of these stores if they want to avoid a revenue hit.
Epic Games is pushing the narrative that developers shouldn’t be required to use a proprietary payment system. Depending on the outcome of Epic’s suit, we may see a paradigm shift in how apps are published and distributed. Developers may create their own apps that host their games, circumventing the Google Play and Apple App Store altogether. Either way, the end result will certainly change the mobile gaming and app market forever.