Judge stops Apple from blocking Unreal Engine but Fortnite on iOS still MIA

Eric Abent - Aug 25, 2020, 2:33pm CDT
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Judge stops Apple from blocking Unreal Engine but Fortnite on iOS still MIA

The war between Apple and Epic escalated in a serious way last week, as Epic accused Apple of threatening to ban its Unreal Engine from Apple platforms. That was a surprising move in this ongoing feud between the two companies because banning Unreal Engine would have an adverse effect on more than just Epic – it would be a major setback for anyone developing games for Mac or iOS using the engine.

Given the popularity of Unreal Engine throughout the games industry, there’s potentially a large number of developers who would be caught in the crossfire here. The good news for those developers is that US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has put in place a temporary restraining order that prevents Apple from blocking Unreal Engine – and Epic’s developer accounts – on its platforms.

Epic didn’t get everything it wanted out of this early ruling, though. Judge Rogers didn’t grant Epic’s request to temporarily put Fortnite back on the iOS App Store TechCrunch reports. That means iOS players will indeed miss the launch of Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 4 later this week, assuming they don’t play on any other platforms.

For this preliminary ruling delivered last night, it seems that Judge Rogers wanted to keep the focus on the feud between Epic and Apple, which was sparked earlier this month when Epic rolled out a new Direct Payment system in the mobile versions of Fortnite. These Direct Payments would bypass the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, thereby allowing Epic to keep all of the money from in-game Fortnite purchases instead of giving a 30% cut to Apple and Google.

Apple pulled Fortnite from the App Store later that same day, a move that Epic was seemingly prepared for, as it filed a lawsuit against Apple almost as soon as Fortnite was pulled. It also launched a campaign it which it accused Apple of monopolistic practices with the App Store, and it’s in this upcoming legal battle that we’ll see if the court agrees with Epic’s accusations.

Rogers noted in her ruling that while Epic violated App Store guidelines in regards to Fortnite, it didn’t do the same thing with Unreal Engine. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” Rogers said in her ruling.

In a statement published to Twitter by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple didn’t mention the Unreal ruling at all, deciding to focus entirely on Fortnite. “We thank the court for recognizing that Epic’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and is in their power to resolve,” Apple said, adding that it will “gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS,” should Epic bring the game back in line with App Store guidelines.

So, for now, developers can keep using Unreal Engine tools to create games for iOS and Android while the focus of this litigation narrows back to Fortnite, Apple, and Epic. The next time these two giants of industry will be in court is on September 28th as Judge Rogers hears arguments concerning Epic’s request for a preliminary injunction against Apple.


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