Apple takes the early lead over Fortnite developer Epic Games in their legal battle over in-app purchase fees.
The ongoing battle between Apple Inc. and Epic Games hit the courts earlier today in a virtual m Zoom hearing. Both sides plead their case with Epic focusing heavily on Fortnite returning to the App Store. United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez determined in session one of the legal proceedings that Apple has no obligation to restore Fortnite on their App Store. Although it may seem like Epic Games is not off to a hot start, Judge Gonzalez ruled in favor of the North Carolina-based video game developer on another point.
One of Apple’s heaviest hammers to swing came in the form of their ability to remove any apps running Epic’s Unreal Engine. Tempers flared after Apple promised to take such action on August 28. However, Epic Games’ counter lawsuit worked in their favor. According to a Bloomberg article, Judge Gonzalez believed; “Epic breached its agreements with Apple by trying to make money on Fortnite purchases while accessing Apple’s platform for free, but didn’t breach any contracts related to Unreal Engine and developer tools.”
For the time being, Epic is at least safe on one count, especially considering the damage Apple could have done by removing all apps running Unreal Engine. In addition to Fortnite, games like PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG) Mobile and Mortal Kombat 11 utilize the same engine.
Microsoft even entered into the mix when Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stood against Apple’s attempt to remove all iOS titles running the Unreal Engine.
Today we filed a statement in support of Epic's request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine. Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer developers & gamers https://t.co/72bLdDkvUx
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 23, 2020
Impact of the Fortnite Removal
The removal of Fortnite stands, however, and it’s a tough break for the popular Battle Royale title and its developers. Back in February of 2019, Sensor Tower reported that Fortnite on iOS reached over $500 million in just one year. It’s safe to say that the game crossed $1 billion a long time ago. Unfortunately, Epic will take a sizable hit as a result of Fortnite no longer appearing in the App Store. Google, too, made the judgment to remove Fortnite from the Google Play Store for the same reasons as Apple.
Epic’s attempt to bypass Apple’s 30% in-app purchase fee has not yielded much success just yet. The going is still early on, but Epic surely has their hands full. These legal proceedings could not have come at a worse time, either. Epic Games will release Fortnite Chapter 2 – Season 4 without delay later this week. As of right now, iOS players will not be able to experience the newest update.
Stay tuned to ESTNN for more Fortnite news and updates!