Gaming

Epic is giving V-Bucks to iOS and Mac players who can't install updates

If you have unspent V-Bucks you bought through the App Store, you're getting a bonus.

Chesnot/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Epic is unable to update Fortnite on iOS or Mac due to its ongoing lawsuit with Apple, but it's hoping that throwing some extra V-Bucks at gamers on Apple's platforms will keep players loyal. For iOS players, Epic will be issuing bonus V-Bucks equal to the amount of any unspent V-Bucks purchased through the App Store. Mac users will get a V-Bucks bonus equal to the number of unspent V-Bucks purchased from Epic.

These V-Bucks can be spent on any other platform. Fortnite is available on Android, Windows, and gaming consoles including the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. So, basically, everywhere.

Even though the macOS version of the app isn't distributed through the App Store, Epic lost its developer account for Fortnite that it uses to notarize the game there. Unsigned applications are harder to install on macOS, though it's possible.

Players on iOS who still have Fortnite installed can still play the game, but they don't receive new content nor can they cross-play with users on other platforms.

Google is also targeted in Epic's lawsuit over the same 30 percent fee it charges in the Play Store. But users on Android can download Fortnite through Epic's own store. Developers are only required to pay fees when their app has been downloaded through Google's official store.

Platform power — Epic filed suit against Apple after it attempted to bypass the App Store payment system and avoid giving the company the requisite 30 percent cut of in-app purchases. Apple responded by booting Fortnite from the App Store. While Apple argues that it deserves compensation from apps in exchange for reviewing and distributing them in the App Store, developers are increasingly complaining that Apple's unilateral control of the store is harmful to competition and raises prices. iOS users cannot download apps outside the App Store, so if a developer disagrees with Apple's rules, they risk being locked out of the second most popular mobile operating system in the world after Android.

The whole situation has set up a potential antitrust battle with the Department of Justice. The agency recently filed suit against Google for the way it maintains its dominance in search by paying Apple $10 billion per year to be the default search engine on iOS. Smaller competitors — the thinking goes — have no way to compete because they can't afford to pay anywhere near that.

A judge recently ruled that Apple can keep Fortnite out of the App Store while the case proceeds, and it was allowed to block Epic's developer account for the game on macOS. It cannot block Epic's developer accounts for other games, however, or its access to tools that allow it to continue updating the Unreal Engine that powers its games.