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Apple refused Epic’s request to bring ‘Fortnite’ back to iPhone in Korea

Published Sep 10th, 2021 6:30PM EDT
Fortnite iPhone
Image: Epic Games

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Epic Games and Apple are embroiled in a major App Store legal battle. The outcome might have significant repercussions on how the App Store and Google Play operate. Epic provoked the crisis last summer. The company intentionally added its own payment option to Fortnite on iPhone, defying Apple’s App Store rules. Apple swiftly banned Epic, and Fortnite hasn’t been available on Apple devices ever since. A year later, Epic has asked Apple to reinstate its Fortnite developer account. The company wants to bring Fortnite back to iPhone in Korea. Epic intends to take advantage of a new bill in the country. The legislation will force Apple and Google to allow third-party payment options in apps like Fortnite. Apple already responded, indicating that it won’t restore Epic’s App Store account in the region.

App Store antitrust developments

It’s not just Epic asking for changes for app stores on mobile devices. We witnessed several antitrust developments that have nothing to do with Fortnite on iPhone in the past few weeks.

Apple had to make some concessions related to the App Store, although some argue they’re only minor changes. The iPhone maker settled a class action in the US recently. The iPhone maker agreed to allow developers to collect customer contact information in apps.

Apple settled a different case with the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), agreeing to allow reading apps like Netflix and Spotify to include links to their websites in their apps. This meant new customers could manage their accounts outside of the App Store.

Then there’s the Korean law that wants to prevent Apple and Google from forcing developers to only use the Apple or Google payment methods in their digital stores.

That new bill in Korea prompted Epic to ask Apple to reinstate its account in the region, even though the legal battle between the two parties isn’t over.

Fortnite isn’t coming back to iPhone

“Epic has asked Apple to restore our Fortnite developer account,” Epic said on Twitter. “Epic intends to re-release Fortnite on iOS in Korea offering both Epic payment and Apple payment side-by-side in compliance with the new Korean law.”

Apple told MacRumors that there is no basis for Epic’s request. “As we’ve said all along, we would welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else,” Apple said in a statement. “Epic has admitted to breach of contract and as of now, there’s no legitimate basis for the reinstatement of their developer account.”

Apple also explained the new legislation in Korea is yet to go into effect. Even if it had, Apple is under no obligation to reinstate a developer account banned before the new law. Epic’s Fortnite battle started over a year ago. The game studio released the infamous iPhone update that offered Fortnite players an alternate payment method.

Previously, Apple said in a previous statement that Korea’s new Telecommunications Business Act update would put users at risk.

That said, there’s no telling when Fortnite will return to the iPhone or if it’ll ever happen. But Epic is looking to get back on Apple’s platform despite orchestrating its own ban.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.