Epic Games has fought Google's 30% cut of in-app purchases on Android for a while now, to the point where Fortnite was only available on Samsung's Galaxy Store and as an APK download. The company finally relented earlier this year, when the game finally appeared on the Play Store, but now it has been quietly pulled following an update that circumvented Google's payment system.
Epic Games released a server-side update for Fortnite earlier today, which added the option of saving 20% when purchasing V-Bucks by using Epic's own payment portal. Google's guidelines state that "products within a game downloaded on Google Play or providing access to game content" must use the Google Play In-app Billing, which gives the company a 30% cut from all revenue.
Apple quickly removed Fortnite from the App Store over the issue. "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," the company told The Verge in a statement.
It was clear Epic Games was ready for the takedown, as it uploaded a video mocking Apple's 1984-themed advertisement for the original Macintosh shortly after the removal. Epic has also filed a lawsuit against Apple, calling the company "the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation."
Google has now also removed Fortnite from its app store, and provided the following message to The Verge:
The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.
You can still download Fortnite on Android by downloading the APK from the game's website, or by installing it from the Galaxy Store on Samsung devices. Epic Games has not yet responded to the takedown.
Google sued by Epic Games
Epic Games has now announced a lawsuit against Google, nearly identical to the one filed against Apple. It alleges that Google is "using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize." Even though Fortnite is still available on Android through other stores, the lawsuit says directly downloading Fortnite "can involve a dozen steps, requiring the user to change default settings and bravely click through multiple dire warnings."