Apple not required to let Fortnite back on the App Store despite Epic ruling [U]

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has finally issued a permanent injunction regarding the Apple vs. Epic Games case, which began in August 2020 after Fortnite was removed from the App Store. However, although Apple has been required to allow alternative payment methods in the App Store, the company will not be forced to let Epic Games bring back Fortnite or other apps to its platforms.

According to Judge Rogers, the termination of Epic’s App Store account is considered valid, as the game company in fact would have violated Apple’s terms and policies. For this reason, the judge will not force Apple to let Epic’s games back into the App Store. Epic Games will also have to pay damages to Apple for the time it sold in-app purchases on the iOS version of Fortnite without paying the App Store’s 30% commission.

(1) damages in an amount equal to (i) 30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic Games collected from users in the Fortnite app on iOS through Epic Direct Payment between August and October 2020, plus (ii) 30% of any such revenue Epic Games collected from November 1, 2020 through the date of judgment; and

(2) a declaration that (i) Apple’s termination of the DPLA and the related agreements between Epic Games and Apple was valid, lawful, and enforceable, and (ii) Apple has the contractual right to terminate its DPLA with any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.

In 2020, Epic Games released an update to Fortnite for iOS that introduced its own payment system for in-game content. The company promoted the new system as a cheaper way to purchase game items, since its own system did not require paying the App Store commission.

Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, and after Epic Games sued Apple, the company permanently terminated Epic’s App Store account. Following today’s ruling by Judge Rogers, Fortnite will only return to the App Store if Apple wants it to.

Earlier this month, Apple had already announced that it would let developers redirect users to subscribe to services outside the App Store, but now the company will be forced to allow this for any kind of apps. Apple’s initial plans were to roll out these changes in early 2022, but Judge Rogers gave the company 90 days to comply with today’s rulings.

Update:

On a related note, Epic’s preliminary Injunction that let the company keep its developer account to use Xcode and other Apple developer tools has also been terminated.

Although Apple has not said anything about this specific situation, developer Steve Troughton-Smith and Ben Thompson have noted that this could result in the end of the Unreal Engine for Apple platforms.

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