(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. removed Fortnite from the App Store on Thursday, prompting a lawsuit by the game’s creator, Epic Games Inc.
The moves escalate a dispute between the two companies that had been brewing in recent weeks.
Apple requires applications with in-app payments to be billed through the company, which takes a 30% cut of revenue, similar to Google’s store. On Thursday morning, Epic Games told customers it would begin offering a direct purchase plan for items in the popular battle royale game on both Apple and Google platforms, circumventing the fees. Epic said it would pass on the savings to customers, offering discounts of as much as 20% on its own plan.
Apple said in a statement that it removed Fortnite because Epic took steps with the “express intent of violating the App Store guidelines.” A representative for Epic didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple is facing scrutiny from officials in the U.S. and Europe over antitrust complaints. Epic Chief Executive Officer Tim Sweeney has openly supported the European Union’s investigation into Apple’s practices. App developers have complained for years about the fees Apple and Google charge in their stores. Sweeney described the two companies as a duopoly in an interview with Bloomberg Television last month.
“If Apple had the way, they’d block the web and make arbitrary decisions about what pages you’re allowed to visit,” Sweeney wrote on Twitter last month, “and then demand 30% of the revenue from every company that does business on the web.”
Shortly after Fortnite was pulled, the game’s official Twitter account said it would host a new video short called Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite, a cheeky shot at a famous Apple advertising campaign.