Today a U.S. District Court judge ruled in Epic Games’ favour in its lawsuit against Apple. As a result, Apple can no longer dictate that purchases made in apps on its own devices go through the App Store. Apple had previously collected 30% of the revenue for purchases made in Epic Games’ Fortnite.
In 2020, Apple removed Fortnite from the iOS store after Epic offered its users a discount on V-Bucks if they purchased them outside of the App Store. Epic took this move in response to Apple collecting 30% of profits made from V-Buck purchases on Apple devices. The Fortnite developer launched a public campaign using the hashtag #FreeFortnite which framed Apple’s practice as unreasonable. This was quickly followed by Epic filing a lawsuit against Apple in August 2020.
Below is the relevant section of the injunction as ruled by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers:
The Court, having considered the evidence presented at the bench trial in this matter and consistent with its findings of fact and conclusions of law, HEREBY ORDERS as follows:
1. Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.
What does this mean? In 2022, Apple can no longer require that online purchases made in games or apps on Apple devices go through its own App Store. It must allow developers to redirect users to their own marketplaces for online purchases. The injunction will take effect on December 9 unless it is appointed to a higher court, according to Verge.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, tweeted out a response to the court decision, stating:
Today’s ruling isn't a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers. https://t.co/cGTBxThnsP
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 10, 2021
This decision has potentially large implications for other online storefronts like Google, which Epic also filed a lawsuit against in July of this year. With Epic Games now being allowed to redirect users playing on Apple devices to its own sites for online purchases thanks to this lawsuit, there could be precedent for developers to be able to do so on other storefronts as well.
Kotaku reached out to Epic and Apple for comment. Epic directed us to Tim Sweeney’s tweet, above. Apple did not respond as of press time.