Epic Games, the maker of the wildly popular Fortnite video game, made a bold move this week: It began encouraging users of its iPhone and Android apps to pay it directly, rather than via Apple or Google.
On Thursday, Apple responded, kicking the Fortnite app out of its App Store and sharply escalating its fight with arguably the world’s most important game company and one of its most lucrative partners.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines,” Apple said in a statement. “We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
The move by Epic was a clear provocation. The tech giants require all such app payments to go through their systems, so they can collect a 30 percent fee. That policy has been at the center of antitrust complaints against Apple in particular, and Epic Games appeared to be goading the iPhone maker into responding.
Epic said in a statement that it was taking legal action to “end Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces.”
“Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market,” the company said.
Fortnite has become an enormous enterprise, and Epic announced in May that it had more than 350 million registered players. The game generated $1.8 billion in revenue last year, according to analysis firm SuperData.
A representative from Epic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.