On Friday, the 9th of October, Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers ruled against Apple’s decision to revoke Epic Games’ developer account, but maintained her stance banning Fortnite from returning to the App Store in its current state.
The two tech giants’ legal feud started when Epic Games tried to bypass the App Store’s 30% sharing cut by adding a direct-payment feature to Fortnite, back in early August. The move was directed at microtransactions within the game, from which the developer would normally receive a 70% revenue.
Following this breach of their terms and conditions, Apple removed the game from the App Store and threatened to ban Epic’s access to its developer liberties on iOS and Mac. The ban was also meant to include Epic’s own Unreal Engine, which is used by other developers too.
Once Fortnite was unlisted from the App Store, Epic Games filed a lawsuit for antitrust and anti-competitive behaviour against Apple. On the 8th of September, Apple countersued Epic for being in breach of their legal agreement. For the past three years, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney has openly criticised digital storefronts like Steam, Google Play and the App Store for their 30% revenue sharing cut, which is known as an industry standard.
In the most recent court hearing, there have been rulings in favour and against both parties, with Fortnite not allowed back on the App Store, whilst Epic Games still keeping their developer status for Apple. Judge Rogers said that the public interest was “overwhelmingly in favour of Unreal Engine and the Epic Affiliates”, thus allowing Epic to keep developing for iOS devices.
Following Friday’s hearing, Epic Games said they were “grateful that Apple will continue to be barred from retaliating against Unreal Engine and our game development customers.” Apple’s statement praised the App Store’s “legacy of innovation and dynamism” and its economic benefit to developers.
The dispute is due to continue, with a possibility of being settled by a judge in May 2021.
Words by Eliza Lita
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