Epic Games is battling Apple and Google over the removal of the game from mobile app marketplaces in a dispute over commissions; launch screen of ‘Fortnite’ seen on an Apple iPhone X.

Photo: cj gunther/EPA/Shutterstock

When season 4 of “Fortnite” launches Thursday, players like David Morell won’t be able to log into the popular videogame from their iPhones.

Mr. Morell, 32 years old, would first need to download the latest version from Apple Inc.’s AAPL -1.20% App Store—but it’s no longer there. Apple and Google removed “Fortnite” from their app marketplaces earlier this month after the game’s creator, Epic Games Inc., added an unauthorized payment system that skirted the tech giants’ 30% commission on in-app purchases.

Epic in response has sued Apple and the Alphabet Inc. GOOG -1.09% unit in U.S. District Court in Northern California, saying the fees were excessive and that app creators shouldn’t be restricted to the Apple and Google payment systems to process sales.

The legal battle has gamers caught in the middle, with some taking sides and others struggling to wrap their heads around the matter. Mr. Morell, a freelance video producer who lives in Cranston, R.I., normally plays “Fortnite” on an iPhone XR with a controller. He isn’t sure where to channel his disappointment. “I am an Apple die-hard but I am an avid player of ‘Fortnite,’ ” he said.

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