This morning, Fortnite developer Epic announced it’s permanently lowering the cost of in-game currency V-Bucks across all platforms. It’s also added its own direct payment system to Apple and Android devices, circumventing the App Store and Google Play. It’s the latest move against what Epic calls the companies’ “exorbitant 30% fee” on mobile purchases.
(Update 7:06pm—Since the new payment methods are in violation of both Apple and Google’s policies, both companies have removed Fortnite from their respective stores. Epic has filed a legal complaint against Apple for the removal. Fortnite remains available on Android via alternate storefronts, though not on Google Play.)
In a blog on the pricing change, called, the Fortnite Mega Drop, Epic writes, “Starting today, any V-Bucks or real-money offers you purchase on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac are now discounted by up to 20%.” On mobile, players can choose to pay with either the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, or Epic direct payment, with direct payment purchases costing less in most countries. Epic writes that “By offering an alternate payment system, we’re not only offering players more choice, but we’re able to pass along the savings to players.” Support-a-Creator cuts will stay the same, with $1 for every 2000 V-Bucks going to the designated creator. Players who made V-Bucks or real money purchases between July 14 and August 13 “will be granted a V-Bucks bonus by August 17.”
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has long been vocal about what he sees as Apple and Google’s stranglehold on mobile purchases. Fortnite initially released on its own installer on Android, coming to the Google Play Store 18 months later. In late July, Sweeney called Apple and Google “a duopoly” in an interview with Bloomberg, saying, “Imagine a town that only allowed a Target and disallowed any other stores from building. I mean, that’s totally un-American and uncompetitive. But that’s exactly what Apple does in an absolute sense.” In a recent interview on Medium, Sweeney said, “all million of us developers, large and small, need to resist and refuse to continue cooperating with these platforms, which...are basically holding our businesses hostages to larger and larger ransom over time.”
Update, 11:02am—As pointed out by Macrumors, Epic utilizing its own payment system on iOS is against Apple’s rules for games on the platform, opening the question of how Apple might respond to this seeming challenge, especially in light of the current anti-trust conversation. Kotaku has reached out to Epic for further comment.