- Epic has launched a direct payment system in Fortnite on Android and iOS.
- It lowers prices for V-Bucks by up to 20% versus the App Store and Google Play Store.
- Itâ€™s a not-so-subtle criticism of the cuts Apple and Google take from in-game currency sales.
Update: August 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM ET: That didnâ€™t take long. Bloombergâ€™s Mark Gurman confirmed on Twitter that Epicâ€™s Fortnite has been removed from Appleâ€™s App Store following the direct payment system update. Indeed, the app is no longer available for download from the App Store.
Android Authority is still waiting to hear back from Google and Epic regarding todayâ€™s events. For now, it appears Fortnite is still available in the Play Store.
Original article: August 13, 2020 at 12:11 PM ET: Epic Games has been very vocal about its displeasure with the 30% cut Apple and Google demand from app sales, and itâ€™s now taking those policies head-on by trying to bypass those stores for in-game currency.
The developer has introduced an Epic direct payment system for Fortnite on Android and iOS that offers lower prices for V-Bucks while calling out the premium you pay on the App Store and Google Play Store. It costs $10 to buy 1,000 V-Bucks through Apple and Google, for example, but that drops to $8 if you use Epicâ€™s payment method. Prices drop up to 20% if you use direct payment, Epic said.
The direct payment system is currently supported in dozens of countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and India. Some of them require US dollars. There are some conspicuous exceptions to support, such as Brazil, mainland China, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea.
The company pitched the direct payments as a way to offer â€œmore choiceâ€� to players while â€œpass[ing] along the savingsâ€� to players. It pointed to â€œthousandsâ€� of apps that are allowed to offer direct payments (albeit for physical goods) as support for its argument, including Amazon, DoorDash, and Lyft. However, itâ€™s also a not-so-subtle challenge to Apple and Google: either lower your share of in-game purchases or ban one of the most popular games on your store.
Weâ€™ve asked Epic and Google for comment.
The move comes right as Apple and Google are facing increased political scrutiny in the US, the EU, and other areas. Officials are concerned the companies are abusing their app store ownership to stifle competition or otherwise squeeze developers. Epic isnâ€™t necessarily trying to use this scrutiny to its advantage, but any fight over its direct payment system could easily draw more attention from regulators.