- Fortnite is still banned from the App Store, as Epic has lost access to its developer account that governs the game after willfully violating the App Store rules.
- Fortnite might not return to the iPhone and iPad for at least a year, according to Apple documentation submitted for the legal proceedings between the two companies.
- An injunction hearing is scheduled for late September, at which point the court will issue a new verdict concerning Epic’s Fortnite and Unreal Engine endeavors on Apple devices.
Fortnite is effectively dead on iPhone, iPad, and macOS. You can play the game, but you won’t get the latest updates following the massive legal spat between Epic Games and Apple. It all started weeks ago when Apple asked Apple to allow it to offer players its own payment option for in-app purchases. When Apple refused, Epic went behind Apple’s back and inserted an alternative payment option in Fortnite, prompting Apple to ban the game. Epic engineered the crisis to sue Apple and Google on antitrust grounds, although it’s the fight against Apple that Epic wants to fight.
Apple did not just ban Fortnite from the App Store; it also threatened to remove Epic’s developer accounts that handle Fortnite and the Unreal Engine. Epic sued again, asking a court to issue a temporary restraining order against Apple. The court sided with Apple on the Fortnite matter, saying that Epic is causing the harm to itself by not complying with the App Store rules. But it also protected the Epic developer account that handles the Unreal Engine. Epic had time to comply and fix the Fortnite app for iPhone before Apple terminated its developer account, but the game studio decided to continue to lie to gamers and taunt Apple instead. Apple activated its option to terminate the Epic developer account as a result, and now the two companies await the next stage in their legal battle. As it is right now, Apple intends not to allow Epic to reapply to the Apple Developer Program for at least a year.
Without access to a developer account, Epic can’t bring back Fortnite to the App Store and will have to wait for time to pass, assuming the court does not intervene in its favor.
The judge presiding over the case made it clear that the current verdict is not final and might change. This could affect both Apple and Epic, as each of them won half of the argument. Apple won the major victory against Fortnite, while Epic managed to save the Unreal Engine for the time being. The next hearing is scheduled for September 28th, at which point the judge may issue a similar or different ruling.
Apple has said that it will not let Epic Games re-apply to the Apple Developer Program for at least one year.
Epic Games did file a preliminary injunction last week to overturn this ban.
Assuming no changes, it's unlikely Fortnite returns to iOS before August 2021. pic.twitter.com/LChsKdhvHb
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) September 13, 2020
Apple said in court documents that it terminated Epic’s developer account, as it announced the company it would do unless they fixed the Fortnite violations. It’s in the same document that Apple explains that it won’t allow Epic to reapply to the program for at least a year. Apple emailed Epic a similar notification on August 28th when it terminated the account.
The two companies could also settle the matter before that, regardless of what happens during the injunction hearing in less than two weeks from now. Fortnite makes a lot of money for both Apple and Epic, so the game might return to the App Store sooner than expected.
On the other hand, Apple is making an example of Epic, having also asked for damages from the court. All the while, Epic continues to pretend the current predicament isn’t of its own doing. Epic could have sued Apple on antitrust grounds without violating the App Store rules that govern that marketplace, and without robbing gamers the ability to play Fortnite on iPhone and iPad. Instead, it generated attention with its epic TV ad, hoping that gamers would be fooled into supporting Epic against Apple. A look on social media is enough to make Epic realize gamers did not fall for the trick as they realized Fortnite disappearance from the App Store is entirely of Epic’s doing.
The 30% Apple tax may be too high, and Apple may need to readapt its fees and App Store rules for today’s mobile landscape. There’s definitely merit in this argument, whether it’s coming from Epic, Microsoft, or any other app developer. But dissatisfaction with the current contract between the two parties can’t be enough for Epic to break the deal and then demand that it should be exempt from any punishment.