Apple made good on its promise to terminate “Fortnite” developer Epic Games’ access to its App Store on Friday. As a result, the studio can no longer distribute updates of its battle royale title to Mac and iOS-based players. However, a federal judge prevented Apple from closing the account Epic uses to provide support for its Unreal Engine.
Apple and Epic have been in a court battle regarding the iPhone company’s application marketplace policies since mid-August.
A Split Decision
Last week, Epic filed a restraining order to prevent Apple from terminating its access to its developer ecosystem. The studio argued that being unable to update its games and the Unreal Engine would seriously harm its business.
On August 28, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled the Big Tech firm could remove Epic’s access to its App Store. However, she prevented Apple from revoking Epic’s ability to update and patch its signature games development platform.
As a result, “Fortnite” fans cannot access the title’s new Marvel-centric Season 4 content or make in-game purchases through the Mac or iOS ecosystems. In addition, users who have never downloaded the game cannot install it on their Apple hardware. The Verge also reports gamers who own but removed Epic titles from their devices cannot reinstall them via the App Store.
In response to Judge Rogers’ ruling, Apple expressed regret at having to cancel Epic’s app developer access. However, the electronic device company blamed the studio for its exile because it violated its digital marketplace policies.
As of this writing, Epic did not publicly comment on the ruling. However, CEO Tim Sweeney objected to Apple’s perceived suggestion that his company “spammed the App Store review process.”
The U.S. District Court for California’s Northern District will hear arguments from Apple and Epic regarding the latter’s injunction filing on September 28.
At this point, it seems the iPhone maker and the games studio will spend the next few years fighting in court.
Judge Rogers bolstered Apple’s claim it has the right to take action against developers that violate its App Store guidelines. Based on its prior statements, the company will likely argue “Fortnite” would not be a multibillion-dollar success without its platform. The manufacturer could also point out its 30 percent transaction fees are a standard industry practice.
On the other hand, Epic will probably reiterate its claim that Apple’s App Store guidelines are monopolistic.
The studio has long argued the Silicon Valley giant’s platform fees are excessive, and its policies hurt mobile developers. The firm might use Judge Rogers’ ruling protecting its right to update the Unreal Engine and back its claims. The “Fortnite” maker could further support its assertion by noting U.S. and E.U. authorities are investigating Apple for possible App Store related antitrust violations.
Epic will also undoubtedly reference Spotify, Microsoft, and Facebook’s objections to Apple’s digital billing practices.
According to Sensor Tower, a mobile app analyst firm, Epic’s titles generated $1.2 billion in revenue through Apple’s marketplace since 2012. However, the group states the iPhone brand made $360 million facilitating those transactions. With so much money on the table, both companies have an incentive to dig in for a long fight.