Epic Confirms Massive L: Fortnite Not Returning To Apple Any Time Soon

Epic Confirms Massive L: Fortnite Not Returning To Apple Any Time Soon
Image: Epic Games

Today, Tim Sweeney confirmed on Twitter just how massive of an “L” Epic took in its recent trial against Apple. Apple has effectively “blacklisted” Fortnite from all Apple products until the legal clash between the two massive corporations reaches its conclusion, which could take as long as five years. (It’s even longer in Peely years.)

In the tweet, Sweeney posted a letter Epic had received from Apple confirming that Epic’s Apple developer account will not be reinstated, and that Epic cannot even request reinstatement until “the court’s judgement becomes final and unappealable.”

That can take up to five years, according to Sweeney, who also claims that this is a renege on Apple’s previous position expressed to both the court and the press. However, given that Epic is currently trying to appeal the decision, I’d argue that Apple’s reticence to let it return to the platform makes perfect sense.

This letter reinforces the reality of this trial, that both Epic and Apple resoundingly lost. There was no court order to get Fortnite back on the store, and Apple lost its ability to refuse payments outside of its ecosystem. Both massive corporations lost, and all other developers will reap the rewards of Epic’s hubris.

To recap this whole, ridiculous situation, last year Apple disabled Epic Games’ developer account following a Fortnite update which allowed users to bypass the Apple ecosystem for in-app purchases. Epic undertook this gambit to avoid giving Apple its customary 30 per cent cut of in-app purchase revenue. Epic then sued Apple because it claimed that its removal from Apple’s platforms was anti-competitive and unfair. Apple immediately filed a countersuit, claiming Epic had violated its contract with Apple. This then set the scene for an incredibly silly trial, and two own-goals from the power-hungry tech giants.

Sure, some people are upset they cannot play Fortnite on their iPhones, and that’s a bummer for them, but that does little to undercut the joy of watching companies mess up publicly, and even less to undercut the benefits it will confer to other developers. I can do little but hope this beautiful schadenfreude train will continue for a little longer as these two corporations publicly hit themselves in the face for the benefit of all other app developers.

Comments

  • Hm. Based on other reporting I’ve seen on the 90% rejected cases put forward, this isn’t a huge win for other developers, either. While there is an obligation for Apple to allow app-developers to show users information about alternate payment methods, there was an explicit note from the judge that Apple is entitled to charge developers to use the platform, one way or another, and the 30% off IAP is just one convenient and simple way to do that.

    No-one’s getting exempted from owing Apple.
    This isn’t a ‘hooray, we now all have free use of the platform and no-one needs to pay Apple anything to be on iOS!’ moment for anyone.

    The judge declared the exact opposite. App developers owe Apple to be on the platform. The 30% cut of IAP is one way to collect what they’re owed, but if anyone is able to successfully circumvent that entirely, Apple can either boot them off the platform for not paying rent, or find other – possibly nastier – ways to collect their rightful pound of flesh.

    • So confirming what we’ve known since the 90s is that Apple truly is the Evil Empire Monopoly.

      If this was Microsoft, people would be losing their shit at them.

      • How so? Microsoft already does much the same. As does Sony. And Steam. Platform-holders charge app-developers to use the platform. That was a big part of the ruling. Many (most?) platforms charge ‘rent’. It’s not always 30% of sales/IAP, but it’s been decided that it’s an entitlement that they all have, and most take advantage of.

        • Should be noted that Microsoft only collects a 30% cut for XBOX Games now. For all other applications and games on PC, Microsoft takes a 12% cut.

          That obviously also ignores that Windows has the ability to load whatever application you want on it outside the store. Hell, even the Xbox, $20 later for a developer account, lets you do the same.

          • Well, yeah… 30%, 12%, the court noted they didn’t care about the value, they weren’t there to make decisions about what percentage is ‘fair’, just that it was there and that the platform was entitled to charge it as one possible means of collecting revenue for platform use.

            The point about loading apps outside the store is probably the most important part.

            I’ve read a theory elsewhere that what Epic was REALLY angling for (not publicly) was trying to get the concept of the ‘walled garden’ torn down, and they figured Apple was their best foot in that door. Endgame being: to get the Epic Game Store on the consoles, to sell and load games on those machines without paying their cut to Sony or MS.

            The courts have, however, preserved the walled garden, and refused to let this case ‘define what a game is’ or define what type of technologies where walled gardens are appropriate. Eg: consoles vs phones vs desktops, etc.

          • Of course, on Windows you can bypass Microsoft’s store and distribute your code directly, using whatever payment system you want.

            The value proposition Microsoft is offering for that 12% is discoverability, an existing customer relationship, a worldwide payment system, etc. That’s quite different to iOS where you’ve got no choice but to distribute through Apple’s store.

      • Also, I know you were being hyperbolic but for the sake of clarity the judge also declared that Apple isn’t in antitrust/monopoly territory yet. Notable quote:

        “Given the trial record, the Court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws. While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct. Success is not illegal. The final trial record did not include evidence of other critical factors, such as barriers to entry and conduct decreasing output or decreasing innovation in the relevant market.”

      • In the 1990s, Apple were on the brink of collapse. Their current position as the world’s largest company (not just tech, but company in general) is a very recent phenomenon.

        Microsoft, on the other hand, spent a fair chunk of the 1990s battling federal lawsuits *because* they were a monopoly, and they’re still the only one of the big 5 tech companies to be actually convicted of running an illegal monopoly.

      • Well Epic arent doing this cos they are freedom fighters but because they want to become the next big Evil Empire. Its hilariously you want to have a go at Apple but seem to miss that little point.

  • Too bad, so sad. Epic wanting to pick this fight what did they expect would happen?
    I cant believe I am going to say, this but I feel sorry for the Fortnite players on Apple, caught out, while mummy and daddy, or is that Godzilla and King Kong are too busy destroying the city around them.

    • This is a weird take.
      I get you don’t like Epic or whatever. And yeah it’s important to remember none of these corporations are our “friends”.

      But Epic can literally drop their suit, get back on the iOS store and start raking in the cash again from Fortnite. They made an estimated 1 billion AUD from the App Store since it was released in 2017.

      I’m an Apple user (iPhone and Macbook) and like a lot of what they stand for. But I still think charging a 30% app tax, when there is no option for physical sales, to be a really gross practice. Steam is no better, and it’s been great to see publishers/developers benefiting from Epic’s increased pressure.

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