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Can Fortnite maker Epic Games take on Apple & Google? Experts weigh in

Fortnite developer Epic Games seems to have a way with breaking the rules. In the face of Fortnite’s success, companies have ended up changing long-standing policies — like Sony, which abandoned its fight against cross-platform play in 2018 after Epic Games forced the issue, eventually leading to cross-play in other games, too.

Fortnite’s size and popularity gave Epic Games the power to bend Sony and Nintendo’s rules, but will the tactic work with the monoliths of Apple and Google? Well, the North Carolina-based company is trying. On Thursday morning, Epic Games updated Fortnite with a new option for payment processing, providing a discounted price for players who choose to process payments through Epic, not Apple or Google. Epic thus circumvented the Apple storefront’s 30% cut on purchases by giving players a 20% discount on V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency. In response, both Apple and Google removed Fortnite from the App Store and the Google Play Store, respectively, citing policy violations.

As it turns out, this is what Epic Games was expecting. And it had a plan. Moments after the game was removed from Apple’s storefront, Epic Games began its #FreeFortnite campaign, complete with a hashtag, in-game propaganda video, and a pair of lawsuits. In those lawsuits, Epic Games argues that Google’s and Apple’s policies are anti-competitive and a violation of antitrust laws. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter that his company is not looking for special treatment; it wants Apple and Google to change its rules and create truly “open platforms” to benefit “all developers,” not just Epic. “It’ll be a hell of a fight!” Sweeney said.

Epic Games has gone up…