While Apple may have won against the order to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store, Epic Games didn't walk away empty-handed. Though the judge presiding over the Monday ruling did side with Apple on their decision to remove Fortnite from their store after a breach of contract regarding in-game purchasing, the courts did put a failsafe in place that prohibits Apple from further retaliation involving blocking game developers from using Unreal Engine and corresponding materials.
The battle between Epic Games and Apple has been a long time coming, though it came to an interesting head when the company added an alternative way to purchase in-game items that bypassed the mandatory 30% cut awarded to Apple. When Epic implemented this cheaper alternative for players, Apple responded by immediately removing the game from its store, effectively cutting off access to mobile and tablet users.
The recent hearing was led by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, and she was clear to state in a public message that the case between Apple and Epic Games is far from clear-cut. She also reiterated that the win of the temporary restriction of Fortnite from the Apple star is not indicative of the final verdict, which has yet to pass. The case will continue its briefings with the next hearing set for September 28th.
The judge also mentioned in a statement to Bloomberg that while both parties are free to engage in their own actions against the other party, legally, she did mention that "Apple has chosen to act severely" with the abrupt removal of the game, a move that hurts consumers. "Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other," she told the site, "but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders." This philosophy lent a solid foundation for the reasons behind the ruling that Apple cannot block the access to Unreal Engine.
Unreal Engine is a highly accessible resource used when creating games and other 3D assets. A concern for many when this all went down was how this escalating interaction between the warring companies would impact other developers. It will be interesting to see how this develops, especially since Epic Games is taking a very aggressive strategy, even mocking Apple with an in-game event and social media strategies.
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We will be learning more about the progression of this case when the two companies meet back in court on September 28th.