The latest update from the Epic Games lawsuit against Apple has confirmed what many mobile players had worried about: Fortnite will be absent from iPhones and iPads for many months, forcing these players to switch to Android, consoles, or PC to get back into the action. Epic recently asked the court to ‘force Apple to reinstate Fortnite to the Apple App Store,’ the court docket reads, with the judge noting that, ‘Epic Games bears the burden in asking for such extraordinary relief.’
The latest turn in the legal case between Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, and Apple took place on Friday. Epic had asked the court to force Apple to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store, which the court rejected. However, the court is preventing Apple from ‘retaliating’ against the company by going after Epic’s Unreal Engine.
In a new court docket, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said, in part:
Given the novelty and the magnitude of the issues, as well as the debate in both the academic community and society at large, the Court is unwilling to tilt the playing field in favor of one party or the other with an early ruling of likelihood of success on the merits. Epic Games has strong arguments regarding Apple’s exclusive distribution through the iOS App Store, and the in-app purchase (“IAP”) system through which Apple takes 30% of certain IAP payments. However, given the limited record, Epic Games has not sufficiently addressed Apple’s counter arguments. The equities, addressed in the temporary restraining order [from September], remain the same.
Assuming that Epic doesn’t give in and remove its in-game purchasing option from the Fortnite mobile game on iOS, the game will remain absent during the trial, meaning players will have to wait several months or longer for the game’s potential return to the App Store.
The legal spat follows Epic’s decision to introduce in-game purchasing options in its mobile game, something that was intended to circumvent the 30-percent cut Apple takes on game purchases. This resulted in the game’s expected ban from the App Store, which Epic had prepared for with a full social campaign against Apple, including a fairly dramatic in-game video that was deployed only hours after the iOS game was pulled.
Google similarly pulled Fortnite from its Play Store over the same issue — in-game purchases that evaded app store revenue cuts — but Android users aren’t limited in the same way. Because Android still allows users to sideload APKs (at their own risk), Fortnite can be downloaded outside of the Play Store for Android users, leaving only Apple players behind.