After Epic added an in-app purchasing option that bypassed Google and Apple’s own payment systems, Fortnite was removed from the respective stores.
It was a planned move, judging by the video that Epic Games then set live on social media, along with the lawsuits that followed, to bring a growing issue to a head: the app store monopoly on mobile devices.
What’s interesting is that the Epic suit against Google contains more than we were aware of. As highlighted by The Verge, Epic Games details agreements that had been made with OnePlus and LG to preload the Epic Games app, which would enable the installation and update of Epic’s games outside of the Google Play store.
The suit details that Google said that OnePlus could only launch the phone with the Epic Games app in the Indian market, rather than worldwide which was the original deal with OnePlus. It goes on to highlight a similar deal with LG that was blocked, saying that Google’s contract with LG stated that LG had “to block side downloading off Google Play Store this year.”
Epic originally tried to offer Fortnite on Android through its own app, before capitulating in April 2020 and instead offering it through Google Play. We guess that the events outlined in the lawsuit led to Epic’s decision. At the time of that change, Epic Games said:
“Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.” Now it all makes more sense.
There’s a lot at play in Epic’s latest challenge to Apple and Google. While there’s some fun in watching how this is unfolding, there’s an easy parallel to how Epic established its own PC games store. Doing the same thing on mobile devices is harder because there’s a greater barrier from Apple and Google, which Epic is wanting to break down.
Apple’s restrictions are a lot tighter – you can’t have any alternative route to getting an app on the iPhone or iPad than through the App Store. Android is slightly less restrictive, allowing sideloading and alternative app stores to operate – although that’s hardly a level playing field.
Don’t expect this legal battle to go away any time soon – but if you do want to download Fortnite on your Android phone, it’s still easy enough to do.