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Epic Games and Microsoft Strike Blow Against Apple and Google

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

The hit game Fortnite is returning to iOS and Android devices, thanks to an innovative licensing deal between Epic Games and Microsoft.

The deal also strikes a blow against the closed environment of Apple’s App Store and Alphabet’s Google Play store, which currently hold a monopoly on app payments for those platforms.

The deal will see Fortnite added to Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming platform, which in turn will allow users to play Fortnite for free on devices powered by Google-owned Android and Apple’s iOS.

The hit game has been unavailable on those platforms since it was removed from both app stores in 2020 in a legal battle royale over in-app payment guidelines. Epic Games famously sued Apple in August 2020 for Apple’s App Store practices, which restricts other in-app purchasing methods outside of Apple’s own payment system.

As Apple charges the developer a 30% cut of these purchases, either for a game or an in-app purchase, there is a massive amount of money at stake for both Apple and its developers.

Epic deliberately attempted to bypass Apple’s App Store for in-game purchases, leading Apple to block Fortnite from the App Store.

Epic lost its legal battle with Apple, however, with the court ruling on nine out of 10 claims in favor of  Apple. Fortnite has remained off the platform ever since. Another lawsuit against Google is ongoing, and Fortnite remains unavailable on Android devices as well.

Now, however, this Microsoft licensing deal will allow users to stream Fortnite onto virtually any device capable of playing it, ranging from iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, as well as personal computers or an Xbox.

The move gives Epic access to the massive mobile gaming market, but also helps Microsoft attract more gamers as it attempts to increase its market share in the video gaming sector. Microsoft also acquired Activision Blizzard earlier this year for almost $69 billion.

The Fortnite deal is also unique for Microsoft as it is the first free-to-play (f2p) game added to the Xbox Cloud Gaming service.

“It’s an important step to add a Free-to-Play title to the cloud gaming catalog as we continue our cloud journey,” Microsoft said in a recent blog post.

Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service pales in comparison to Apple’s App Store, but it is growing in popularity, with more than 10 million people streaming games over the platform in 26 countries.

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