The lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple is far from settled, but the Fortnite creator had requested a preliminary injunction to get Fortnite back in the App Store. It also took measures to ensure that the company's Unreal Engine, which powers numerous games in the App Store, was not blocked by the threatened removal of Epic's developer account.
Well, the company managed to score one win, and unfortunately for Fortnite fans on iOS, it was the ability to continue the support and distribution of the Unreal Engine (via VentureBeat).
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It will certainly cause a collective sigh of relief from the many developers who rely on the Unreal Engine, as well as Epic who claimed they were already seeing developers leave Unreal Engine over this matter. On the other hand, unless Epic is willing to withdraw its inclusion of a direct purchase method in Fortnite, the app will not be reinstated to the App Store.
As a quick reminder, if you have previously installed Fortnite on one of your Apple devices, but either deleted it or had to recently switch devices, here's how to get Fortnite back on your iPhone or iPad.
What's next in Epic Games vs. Apple?
With the immediate concern over what would happen to Unreal Engine and Epic Games' Apple Developer account resolved, the case will return to a much slower pace, so don't count on anything in the short term.
The court's decision in favor of Epic Games on the Unreal Engine matter hinged mainly on the fact that the specific breaches of the app developer agreement were exclusively related to Fortnite and that Apple’s move to restrict Epic Games developer account would cause damage to the Unreal Engine platform and third-party developers. So this win for Epic Games doesn’t indicate much going forward, but we did get some interesting insights into the U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers' perception of the case at this early stage thanks to the hearing.
The judge was unsympathetic to the Fortnite situation in particular as she indicated that "the current predicament appears of its own making," which is something even Epic Games has a hard time arguing.
As far as the larger case goes of whether Apple's App Store is anti-competitive, there were a number of positive signs for Epic Games. Judge Rogers specifically stated that there is "no competition" to the App Store on iOS and that "without competition, where does the 30% come from? Why isn't it 10? 20? How is the consumer benefiting?" While Epic has made it pretty clear that it actually wants its own store on iOS, a drop in the commission rate that all developers must pay would certainly be a wider win for that industry.
Apple's defense was that the competition comes with consumers' ability to choose between Android and iOS in the first place, but Judge Rogers did not appear swayed by this argument due to the inherent cost in switching platforms.
Apple has plenty of time to build its case and will no doubt try to show ample evidence of exactly how it earns that 30% figure when the time comes, but for now, it was a sign that Apple does not have an easy road ahead.