Epic Wins Big Fortnite Lawsuit Against Apple

Epic Wins Big Fortnite Lawsuit Against Apple
Winner winner chicken dinner for Epic Games. (Screenshot: Epic Games / Kotaku)

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:

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.

Comments

    • Except it doesnt work as Sony and other consoles dont prohibit you buying credits via other sources.

      The point was Apple removed Fortnite since you could by credits for the game via the Epic Store. You can buy credits for any game on Sony and MS from the games own shopfront

  • Others are not reporting this as a win for Epic. Apparently Epic won one point, lost all the rest, and has been ordered to pay Apple a few million for breach of contract.

    • Looks at the ruling, epic won the main point which is to allow them to bypass the Apple store for in app purchases

      • Well, no…
        They won regarding their fight against Apple not allowing shops that bypass the 30% cut Apple takes out of every current purchase… BUT they lost regarding their applications being deleted from the app store since it was a breach of contract. Because of this, Apple does not have to allow their apps back onto the platform.
        So in the end, Epic won a battle for other creators, but they themselves lost access to the Apple platform, and have to pay Apple a sizeable amount for their breach.

    • Well, Epic aren’t really taking it as a win either, as Tim Sweeny’s tweet in the article notes, which is probably where a lot of the media are taking their lead from.

      Still, on the substantive matter that triggered the case in the first place it is hard for me to see it as anything other than a win for Epic, albeit not a total one. I mean, Epic can now include popups in their game telling consumers that they can save 15% if they don’t use Apple’s payment front end.

      Of course, the unknown here is how many consumers will think that any savings gained by purchasing outside of Apple’s ecosystem are worth the hassle factor. I would think, however, that the ruling doesn’t preclude a developer from specifically blocking Apple Pay and only taking direct payments through their own websites. Again, to me, that seems to be a win for Epic.

        • I can’t imagine that situation remaining the case for long.

          It isn’t on the platform because of reasons that the judge has now found to be invalid. Continuing to ban Fortnite would leave Apple open to being found in contempt.

          • The judge ruled that Apple’s termination of Epic’s app store account was “valid, lawful and enforceable”. They are not obliged to restore Fortnite to the Apple Store.

            Apple is also no longer required to let Epic keep their developer account for XCode and other other Apple tools.

          • True, the judge attempts to have it both ways in finding both that nothing in the contract between Apple and Epic was unenforceable, but also that any provision in Apple’s contracts restricting in-app links to third party payment options can no longer be enforced.

            Despite the obviously contradictory findings, which will certainly go to appeal, ultimately it’s hard to see a situation where Apple can continue to get away with breaching developers simply for including links to external payment options in their apps unless that restraining order is overturned on appeal.

            Epic presented its case as a fight on behalf of all app developers. Even if Epic itself isn’t allowed back on the platform, which would just be Apple being difficult at this point, plenty of other app developers are now absolutely able to benefit from the ruling.

  • This is fantastic news.

    I pray this is the first domino to eventually getting rid of ads and shovelware as it will become less profitable to host them.

    Plus Apple looks after it’s app store? Please. There’s plenty of shitware on there.

  • On this point: good. 30% for all in-app purchases and mandating that Apple be used as payment processor was a complete piss take. For all that Apple claimed that the 30% fee was justified, well now they get to prove it!

  • Misleading title – They didn’t win the lawsuit, only one of the many parts of it.
    They lost the rest and there still wont be fortnite on iOS.

    Can’t believe people seem to think EPIC is doing this for the consumer, what a joke.

    • Epic’s motivation here is literally irrelevant, as is you raging against them.

      As a direct result of Epic’s case app developers are now able to include in-app links that allow both developers and consumers to avoid paying the Apple tax.

      All that is relevant here is that the outcome is a win for consumers.

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