Epic Games and Apple Wage a Legal Feud as Fortnite is Removed From iOS App Store
We've had a string of good news lately, be it new game announcements, add-ons, and trailers. We almost made it through the week without bad news, but here we are. Rather than a sudden development, however, this story has been an ongoing case since several days ago, and has just recently changed into something even more alarming. Just the other day, Epic Games put in a request to a California court asking for protection from 'retaliation' at the hands of Apple. It's as bizarre a sentence as you think it is; how did we get here? Let's back up a bit and go over what exactly happened between Epic Games and iOS giant Apple.
It all started on August 13th following an update that got sent out to Fortnite players on mobile devices. This update added in a new preferred payment method that apparently bypassed the usual platform fees taken out of in-app microtransactions, thereby violating Apple's guidelines. Later that same day, Apple responded by pulling Fortnite from the app store completely. It didn't take long for Epic to respond to this by filing a lawsuit against Apple, making the argument that their guidelines were anti-competitive. As you might expect, Google followed suit by removing Fortnite from their own Google Play app store for Android devices, which led to another lawsuit directed at them from Epic (though this one differs a bit from Apple's). Quite a lot to unpack here, isn't there? So what led to Epic Games asking for retaliation protection?
That part, unfortunately, comes from a new action on Apple's side. Rather than stop at removing Fortnite, the company has now gone on to reveal they'll be revoking Epic Games' developer account. This does several things, but the big takeaways are that it would prevent Epic from putting out apps on mobile, and that Unreal Engine support for mobile would be dropped and out of date, preventing third-party developers from using it for their own mobile titles. Essentially, Epic's entire mobile ecosystem for themselves and developers using Unreal Engine would collapse. This, in turn, is what led to Epic requesting protection. No further developments have taken place on the court's side of things or Apple's as a response to this, but it likely won't be long until we hear more about it.
This rings especially true when you find out that Apple plans to revoke Epic Games' account by August 28th. Whatever happens between then and now, the result will determine Epic's future when it comes to pushing out mobile titles. Third-party devs will be caught in the crossfire. There may be workarounds, of course, but it's hard to say what those would be without knowing the ins and outs of laws and terms of usage. Whatever the case may be, make sure to keep an eye on this developing story. As of right now, Fortnite is still absent on both iOS and Android devices, so time will tell if that (at the very least) gets reversed. Though, if Apple gets their way with Epic's account, we won't see Fortnite brought back on iOS. Keeping all of that in mind, Google hasn't gone that far. Even if Epic's iOS support falls apart, they can still publish titles on Android devices. We won't have long to see where this all goes.