After Epic Games picked a fight with Apple over the sizable chunk of fees the company takes on transactions in its mobile ecosystem, it looks like the Fortnite developer will be waging a war on two fronts.
Epic added a direct payment option to its mobile game early Thursday, prompting Apple to remove Fortnite from the App Store. Now, the Android version of Fortnite has gone missing from Google's own app marketplace too.
In a statement, Google defended the decision to remove Fortnite for breaking its platform rules:
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.
While Epic's legal filing and in-game spoof of Apple's iconic 1984 commercial make for a flashy fight, it's not Epic's first tangle over the mobile version of Fortnite. The company actually decided to keep Fortnite out of the Google Play Store back in 2018 over complaints very similar to its current crusade against the 30% cut that Google and Apple take from sales in their app stores. Fortnite is free-to-play, but players buy seasonal passes that unlock its progression system as well an in-game cosmetic items like skins that make Epic a ton of money and don't affect gameplay.
Update: Epic has apparently filed a parallel suit against Google, citing the company's old "Don't be evil" mantra and alleging that the company violated antitrust rules by "using its size to do evil upon competitors."
When Epic gave in and brought Fortnite back to the Google Play Store this April, it did so with a statement condemning Google's treatment of apps outside of its own app marketplace. While all apps in Apple's iOS come from the App Store, Google actually does allow apps like Fortnite to be sideloaded outside of Google Play, but the experience is generally less smooth and accompanied with warnings about malware.
"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... Because of this, we’ve launched Fortnite for Android on the Google Play Store," an Epic Games spokesperson said in April.
Fortnite is still available on Android, just not through Google's app store. On its website, Epic points players to a direct download via QR code and the game is also available through Samsung's Galaxy Store on supported devices.