Judge rules against Epic restoring Fortnite to Apple devices

Steven R. August 25, 2020

Fortnite’s going to be unavailable on Apple’s App Store for at least a while longer.

The judge presiding over the ongoing lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games denied Epic’s motion to have the game restored to the App Store. Not all was lost for Epic, though.

While Fortnite will not return to the Apple App Store instantly, the judge granted a motion to prevent Apple from shutting down Epic’s Unreal Engine from its platform. Apple had moved to bar the widely used game engine from devices as an apparent retaliation directed at Epic. This would have had a devastating impact on a number of game developers who use the Unreal Engine for mobile devices and who have no part in the legal battle between Epic and Apple.

Though this is still an early battle in what could be a long battle, this is an early, if not entirely unexpected, victory for Apple.

Catch up on Fortnite news:

Fortnite’s future on Apple devices still unknown

The battle between Apple and Epic Games stems from an attempt by Epic to implement a workaround to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store taking a significant percentage of the company's revenues on mobile devices. Fortnite players had the option to purchase in-game currency through the app stores, or to purchase it directly from Epic at a 20% discount.

This resulted in rapid-fire public statements that quickly turned into litigation. 

Epic’s end goal is to reduce the amount of revenue Google and Apple shave off from microtransactions in Fortnite and other games, but the company has packaged it as a means of defending users’ autonomy over their own devices. This has also been accompanied by a number of videos and statements meant to turn fans of the game against Apple.

Though users can still access Fortnite on Android and iOS devices, its app store support has been removed. This means that no new players can download the game on mobile devices and players are unable to update the game for the time being. The result is that Fortnite will effectively be unplayable on mobile devices for the forseeable future.

The legal battle between Epic and Apple carries huge consequences for the entire tech industry. Should Epic prove successful, it will loosen Apple’s hold on how users make purchases on their iPhones and iPads. If not, Apple will be able to  exert even more control over apps sold through its devices.