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‘Fortnite’ creator aims to bypass Apple, Google fees

‘Fortnite’ creator aims to bypass Apple, Google fees
Business
“Fortnite” creator Epic Games Inc. is launching a new payment system for mobile players that bypasses the fees Apple Inc. and Google charge developers, a move that appears to violate the companies’ app store rules and reflects growing pushback over the marketplace power the tech giants hold.

Epic on Thursday said it is giving “Fortnite” players the option to buy digital goods for up to 20 per cent less than what Apple and Alphabet Inc.-owned Google would charge in their app stores. The survival game is free to play and generates revenue through sales of such items.

“Fortnite” has more than 350 million registered players, according to closely held Epic, making it one of the most popular videogames in the world.

Originally available only on computers and later consoles, “Fortnite” surged in users after launching on Apple’s App Store in 2018. It debuted on Google’s Play store earlier this year after Epic gave up a yearslong battle with the company to get permission to include its own payment system inside “Fortnite”—which is essentially what Epic is doing now. Previously, “Fortnite” was available on Google-supported devices independent of Google Play.

Google and Apple account for the overwhelming majority of sales generated from download fees and in-app purchases. Epic has been among the most outspoken of app makers to criticize the 30 per cent fee the companies charge developers for those processing transactions.

The announcement comes at a time when Congress and federal authorities are probing whether the nation’s biggest technology companies engage in anticompetitive practices. Apple and Google have defended their app-store fees, saying they are necessary because of the services the companies provide, including security and safeguarding user privacy.
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