Apple is preparing to terminate Epic Games’ developer account on August 28, and is not planning to approve updates for the Fortnite game amid the ongoing legal battle between the two companies. This is inconvenient for Epic Games because a new Fortnite season is starting on August 27, and iOS users will not be able to participate.
Epic Games attempted to get a temporary restraining order from a Northern California court to prevent Apple from blocking Fortnite’s updates and terminating the developer account, but after a hearing yesterday, a judge ruled in favor of Apple when it comes to Fortnite. In a statement shared by Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple applauded the judge’s decision and said that it’s ready to welcome Fortnite back if Epic Games decides to remove the direct payment option and return to the status quo.
We thank the court for recognizing that Epic’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and is in their power to resolve. Our very first priority is making sure App Store users have a great experience in a safe and trusted environment, including iPhone users who play Fortnite and who are looking forward to the game’s next season.
We agree with Judge Gonzalez-Rogers that ‘the sensible way to proceed’ is for Epic to comply with the App Store guidelines and continue to operate while the case proceeds. If Epic takes the steps the judge has recommended, we will gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS. We look forward to making our case to the court in September.
Though the judge is allowing Apple to terminate the Epic Games developer account on August 28, she did block Apple from also terminating accounts and access related to the development of the Unreal Engine. Apple may not remove accounts held under Epic International, as it is a separate entity from Epic Games and has a separate developer contract with Apple.
Apple during the hearing argued that it is typical for a developer who violates the rules to have all related and linked accounts terminated as well as their main account, but that did not sway the judge from her decision.
As for Fortnite, the judge made it clear that Epic Games created the current situation and can reverse what has been done by “taking it back to the status quo” and letting the rest of the dispute play out in court.
Epic’s lawyer during the hearing claimed that Epic Games couldn’t “go back into an anticompetitive contract,” but now that it’s been made clear that there will be no restraining order granted to prevent Apple continuing to block Fortnite, Epic may choose to obey the App Store rules, remove the direct payment option that began the whole snafu, and continue the disagreement through legal means that don’t directly impact customers.