Apple vs. Fortnite: Tech battle means old iPhones are valuable on eBay

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-08-21 17:08

Phones with the popular game are selling for thousands of dollars

Having an old iPhone might be the newest way to make bank.

But there's a little catch to cashing in — it has to have Fortnite installed.

iPhones with Fortnite on them have been selling at ridiculous prices on eBay recently.

Why? Well, as of last week, you can’t download or install Fortnite onto any phone.

Only gamers with older iPhones and some Androids — with Fortnite already installed — can play the mobile version of the game.

That’s what resellers are cashing in on.

For comparison, a new iPhone Xr retails for $799. (eBay)

Apple vs. Fortnite

Apple removed Fortnite on Aug. 13 from its app store stating that it violated the company's in-app payment guidelines.

Fortnite is a free-to-play app, but within the game, there’s the opportunity to purchase in-game currency, known as V-bucks.

But because V-buck purchases happen inside the game, major app stores run by Apple and Google don’t get their usual cut.

See, Apple usually takes anywhere from 15 to 30 per cent of the purchase price of an app. This is commonly called “the Apple tax.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook is at the centre of the showdown between two major companies — Apple and Epic Games. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

Apple’s response

Apple says the removal of Fortnite is about the protection and safety of its customers.

In a statement to The Verge, Apple didn’t explain how Fortnite was putting users in danger, but some have suggested it's because in-app purchases can get expensive.

“We don't think it's right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers,” Apple said.

Fortnite reacts

In true Fortnite fashion, Epic Games, which makes the game, isn't backing down without a fight.

The company has launched a social media campaign, #FreeFortnite, calling out what it says is Apple's control over apps.

Many Fortnite users are worried about the update of the game coming on Aug. 27. If Apple, Google and Epic Games don't resolve their battle by then, the newest version of the game won't be available on phones. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

In a blog post on its website, the team behind Fortnite said Apple is blocking them from “passing on the savings from direct payments to you.”

What's next?

Epic Games has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against Apple and Google.

The company says it isn't looking for money but rather a change to the amount of control that app stores have over companies — and how much of a cut they take from app purchases.

Since the lawsuit launched, major news companies, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, have written an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding a change to the "Apple tax."

Spotify and Facebook have expressed their concern, too.

Only time will tell if Fortnite and Apple will call a truce or continue this battle royale for your coin.


With files from Thomson Reuters
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: (Chris Delmas/ Getty Images)

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