CARY — Epic Games, creators of mega-hit “Fortnite,” is offering a new way to make in-app purchases on iOS and Android: Epic direct payment, which skirts the controversial 30 percent charged by Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
In the latest escalation of the on-going battle, the Cary-based game developer on Thursday announced that it is now offering the “Fornite Mega Drop” — a permanent 20 percent discount on V-Bucks, the in-game currency used in “Fortnite.”
The new prices are available on PCs and consoles, but not necessarily for mobile gamers because of Apple’s and Google’s cut on purchases within their respective app stores. Epic says it’s unable to provide the 20% discount for those who pay through those stores.
“Thousands of apps on the App Store approved by Apple accept direct payments, including commonly used apps like Amazon, Grubhub, Nike SNKRS, Best Buy, DoorDash, Fandango, McDonalds, Uber, Lyft, and StubHub,” the company stated in a FAQ on Epic’s website. “We think all developers should be free to support direct payments in all apps.”
However, the move seems to be in direct violation of Apple’s and Google’s app store policies.
Epic Game’s founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, along with other developers and lawmakers, has long criticized the tech giants’ rules of taking a cut of payments made for app-related purchases.
Last December, he said he had specifically asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase.
“We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30 percent fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50 percent market share,” he said in a statement.
Sweeney stressed that Epic is not seeking a “special exception.” “Rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard.”
He further noted that Epic operates a major PC storefront and payment service.
“We do not force developers using our store to use our payment ecosystem,” he said.
Epic has over the past two years built Fortnite into a global powerhouse with hundreds of millions of users.
The company is now worth a whopping $17.3 billion after closing a $1.78 billion round of funding consisting of primary capital and secondary purchases from employee equity holders last week.
This round includes a previously announced $250 million strategic investment from Sony Corporation. Additional investment partners include Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and David Tepper.