The battle against App Store owners is heating up, as Epic Games has announced it’s tempting fate by introducing its own direct purchase options to Fortnite - at lower prices - to circumvent the steep cut on in-app purchases taken by Apple and Google.
Fortnite players who want to buy V-bucks - the in-game currency - or anything else while on their phone will now see a screen giving the choice to pay through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or a cheaper price to pay via ‘Epic direct payment’.
The lower prices match a broader permanent price cut to V-bucks and other purchases of up to 20%, but purchases through Google and Apple will remain at the original price.
“Currently, when using Apple and Google payment options, Apple and Google collect a 30% fee, and the up to 20% price drop does not apply,” Epic explained in the announcement. “If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.”
Not every country and currency currently supports Epic direct payment, but many do already, and Epic says it’s adding more. Check out the official list to find out the payment situation in your country.
It’s not the first time that Epic has butted heads with the mobile platform operators. For 18 months Fortnite was only available through the company's own app launcher on Android, not through the Google Play Store, in protest at Google's 30% cut.
"Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage," Epic said at the time it gave in and released Fortnite on the Play Store, "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."
Meanwhile Microsoft has been embroiled in its own battle with Apple over in-app purchases. The company has limited the new Project xCloud-based game streaming features in Xbox Game Pass to Android, after the app fell foul of Apple's strict App Store policies on in-app purchases and storefronts.
If you're interested, here's how to play Fortnite on iPhone and iPad.