The Apple-Epic case ended earlier this month — well, the first phase of what could be a years-long battle wrapped up. The court found in Apple’s favor on nine of the 10 claims brought by Epic, and the developer is contemplating an appeal in hopes of a more favorable judgment. In the meantime, however, Apple says it won’t be reinstating Fortnite to the App Store. Epic CEO Tim Sweeny says this is another example of Apple going back on its word.
Fortnite is the most popular game in the world, and that has left Epic flush with cash and spoiling for a fight. Last August, Epic added its own in-game currency purchase options to Fortnite for iOS and Android. Naturally, the game was booted from both stores for circumventing the native payment processing. Epic has filed cases against both companies, but Apple was clearly the bigger target as it blocks third-party app installs. While Fortnite isn’t in the Play Store, Android users can still get it.
The judge ruled that Epic had to pay Apple damages, and that Apple was free to nuke any Epic account on its platform. That appears to give Apple the go-ahead to remove the Unreal Engine dev account, which it threatened to do last year. Epic’s main account remains banned, and that might not change as soon as Epic hoped. According to Sweeny, Apple has said it won’t allow Fortnite back on the App Store until the case is really over.
Sweeny tweeted a series of emails from Apple which lay out the company’s position. While Apple is willing to let bygones be bygones, it won’t do so until Epic accepts the judgment and the case is final. If it’s still planning to appeal the verdict, Apple doesn’t want to allow Fortnite to return.
Late last night, Apple informed Epic that Fortnite will be blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem until the exhaustion of all court appeals, which could be as long as a 5-year process. pic.twitter.com/QCD7wogJef
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 22, 2021
In Sweeny’s estimation, this counts as a lie. In court, Apple said it would be happy to welcome Fortnite back to the App Store, as long as it’s following the same rules as everyone else. Epic recently removed the external V-bucks purchase option on the server side, so it appears to be in compliance. However, Epic lacks a developer account to re-release the game.
While the case didn’t turn out the way Epic hoped, Sweeny’s release of the emails suggests he’s still trying to keep the pressure on Apple. But he’s running out of leverage. Appeals take a long time — remember the recent Google-Oracle decision? That case started more than a decade before. Fortnite might not be cool anymore by the time Epic has exhausted its appeals, and Epic could still lose. It’s a gamble that could leave millions of dollars on the table.
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