Unreal Engine spared but Fortnite’s App Store ban remains

By Robert Scammell

Apple does not have to immediately reinstate Epic Games’ Fortnite on its App Store, a US judge has ruled. However, Apple was prevented from cutting off Epic Games’ developer accounts, which would have restricted the use of Epic’s Unreal Engine for other games on the App Store.

Apple removed smash-hit Fortnite from its App Store on 13 August after Epic Games offered a way for iPhone players to buy in-game currency directly. This bypassed Apple’s 30% commission that it usually makes from app purchases.

“The Court finds that with respect to Epic Games’ motion as to its games, including Fortnite, Epic Games has not yet demonstrated irreparable harm. The current predicament appears of its own making,” wrote Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

Rogers agreed with Epic that Apple removing support for other games using Unreal Engine would cause harm the gaming industry.

The mixed decision does not rule out Fortnite being reinstated at a later date, or developer access to Unreal Engine being limited in future. The court will hear further arguments, which the two companies are expected to file next week, before a full hearing on the injunction on 28 September.

Apple has faced mounting backlash over its App Store policies, which critics have referred to as an “Apple tax”. The US company insists that its rules are fair and gives developers access to a marketplace of more than one billion people.

Yesterday Microsoft threw its support behind Epic Games in response to Apple’s threat to the Unreal Engine, a tool also used by Microsoft.

Apple faces antitrust investigations on both sides of the Atlantic over its App Store policies. Music streaming app Spotify is one of several companies to have filed a lawsuit against Apple over its 30% commission.

Read more: Losing Fortnite won’t hurt Apple’s revenues – but the publicity will sting