Fortnite's no longer on the iOS App Store or available on Google Play for Android, the result of Epic's deliberate challenge to the 30% fees charged by both Apple and Google on their platforms. Now, the multibillion dollar gaming giant is seeking injunctive relief from both tech behemoths in court, and it could come at a steep price in terms of revenue.
Estimates from app analytics firm Sensor Tower, as reported by our sister site GamesIndustry.biz, put monthly mobile spending on Fortnite in the tens of millions. There's a catch, though: iOS players are spending more than ten times the amount Android users are.
Sensor Tower puts iOS spending in Fortnite at $1.2 billion since it was launched on the App Store in early 2018. The Android version followed later in the year, but Epic initially insisted upon distributing it outside of Google Play, calling the store's 30% fee "disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform." Epic relented in April, but this nonetheless helped open a wide gap in spending between the two mobile platforms: over the past month, iOS Fortnite players spent $43.3 million compared to $3.3 million on Android.
So, despite the fact that Android has a significant worldwide lead in mobile operating system market share over iOS, having Fortnite on iPhones and iPads is far-and-away more lucrative for Epic. At the time being, people who downloaded Fortnite before the iOS removal can still make purchases through Apple or Epic, but that could change soon.
This also helps explain why Epic came out swinging against the App Store removal with a parody of Apple's famous 1984 ad and did not mount a similar public rebuttal to Google. In its actual lawsuit against Google Epic does adopt a similar tack by referencing the company's old "Don't Be Evil" motto, but Epic both has to argue a different case against Google since the company allows sideloading of apps and it stands to lose less money in the short term if Google halts Fortnite activity. Apple presents the more pressing threat to Epic's revenue.
Of course, between Epic, Apple, and Google, this is a matter of corporations with ample legal resources fighting over the fees being extracted from a game worth billions. In both suits, Epic says it does not want to arrive at one-off beneficial arrangements for itself, but to see the platforms become more open to other storefront and payment providers. That's a role Epic could certainly serve for its own benefit, but there is still the potential for smaller developers to benefit from this fighting between megacorporations if courts find merit in Epic's arguments.