Settling the Apple-Epic debacle, a district court has taken a decision that has something for both the $2 Trillion Cupertino tech giant and the gaming behemoth. The district court has ruled that Apple cannot block Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and its ecosystem, while adding that it does not have to restore Fortnite on the App Store for now.
The decision comes after a heated battle between the two companies, that started when Apple removed Fortnite mobile, claiming that a new direct payment method for in app purchases was a breach of their contract. Apple makes money off of its app store by charging commission for facilitating transactions, which for games is 30%. Now, Fortnite being the cash cow that it is, sees a ton of in app purchases, which were usually routed through Apple, allowing it to take its cut off of the top. However, with the introduction of the new payment method, Apple was booted from the transactions.
This led to the company banning Fornite from its App Store, since this was seen as a violation of the contract between the two entities. Google followed suite very soon, taking the app down from Play Store as well.
Epic Games, as one would expect, retaliated almost at once, and filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the company was misusing its market position to intimidate third party clients. This was just the right time for Epic Games to play this card, as Apple had already been under scrutiny for monopolistic practices, especially surrounding its App Store (as well as the 30% commission).
Apple, possibly infuriated by Epic’s decision (and the weird campaign it launched against the company in the game using a 1984 parody video), decided to block all developer tools from the company, which would preclude updates for other programs, including the Unreal Engine by August 28. The company said that this was in response to breaches of the App Store guidelines and the developer program license agreement signed between the two entities.
The decision today had both Apple and Epic favouring elements, where the former was ordered to stop the ban on developer tools from Epic games, including the Unreal Engine, and the latter was advised to come in accordance with the contract forged between the two companies to get its place back at the App Store.
U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said that Apple was wrong for revoking access to Epic Games’ developer tools or restricting developers on Apple platforms (especially the Unreal Engine), hurting non parties and an entire third party developer ecosystem.
On the other side, he recognised that Epic Games had flagrantly breached its contract with Apple, saying that the game will remain off the App Store unless Epic Games attempted to bring it back in accordance with App Store guidelines.