Fortnite will not be returning to the Apple App Store until all appeals and legal rulings related to the high-profile case between the tech giant and game developer Epic Games are resolved, according to a company executive.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney published a series of tweets on Wednesday documenting correspondence between Epic and Apple. In one letter from Apple’s attorneys, Apple denied Epic’s request to reinstate the Fortnite developer program account, citing breach of contract and breach of trust.
“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,” Sweeney wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
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
Fortnite, a popular free video game with in-app purchases, was removed from the App Store in August 2020 after violating the store’s payment rules when Epic attempted to offer its users alternative payment methods.
In response, Epic Games sued Apple, alleging the company was acting as a monopoly and engaging in anticompetitive behavior in prohibiting app developers from utilizing other payment methods.
A judge ruled in September on the side of Apple, saying that Epic failed to demonstrate Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws. Rather than reinstate Fortnite on the app store, Apple informed Epic Games that the company “will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgement becomes final and nonappealable.”
From this ruling, Epic paid $6 million in damages.
Despite the verdict that broadly sided with Apple, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers noted that the company did engage in anticompetitive tactics and issued an injunction to make Apple permit developers to link app users to other payment methods to cultivate competition.
In his tweets, Sweeney published a letter from Epic to Apple executive Phil Schiller, conceding that Epic will adhere to Apple’s guidelines when it releases future products in the App Store.
The letter also noted, however, that Fortnite will only return to the App Store once Apple allows apps to include external links that route users to other payment mechanisms — a condition mandated in Gonzalez Rogers’s pivotal ruling, and one that Apple is reluctant to enact.
“This is another extraordinary anti-competitive move by Apple, demonstrating their power to reshape markets and choose winners and losers,” Sweeney stated. “We’ll fight on. The need for regulatory and legislative action is clearer than ever before.”
App Store commissions on developers run at 30 percent for all in-store downloads, with a 15 percent caveat for qualifying smaller developers.