Apple Blocks Epic Games’ Plans to Launch Fortnite on iOS in the EU

Vineet Maheshwari

In a major escalation of their long-running feud, Apple has terminated Epic Games’ developer account, effectively blocking the game company’s plans to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS devices in the European Union. The move comes just days before the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) goes into effect, which would have required Apple to allow third-party app stores and alternative payment systems on its platforms.

The Backstory: Epic Games vs. Apple

The conflict between Epic Games and Apple dates back to 2020 when Epic intentionally violated Apple’s App Store rules by introducing a direct payment option in Fortnite, bypassing Apple’s in-app purchase system. This led to Apple removing Fortnite from the App Store and a subsequent legal battle, with Epic accusing Apple of anti-competitive practices and monopolistic behavior.

While Epic largely lost the initial lawsuit, a judge ruled in 2021 that Apple could not prohibit developers from informing users about alternative payment methods outside the App Store. However, Apple appealed this decision, and the case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear appeals from either side in January 2024, leaving the lower court’s ruling in place.

Check: iOS How to Install Project Era to Play Fortnite on iOS

Apple’s Justification and Epic’s Response

In a letter shared by Epic Games, Apple cited its “contractual right” to terminate Epic’s developer account, calling the game company “verifiably untrustworthy” and accusing it of intentionally violating contractual provisions in the past. Apple also pointed to Epic’s public criticism of its plans to comply with the DMA, including comments from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney describing Apple’s approach as “hot garbage” and “a devious new instance of Malicious Compliance.”

Epic Games condemned Apple’s decision, accusing the tech giant of “taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store” and “undermining [Epic’s] ability to be a viable competitor.” In a statement, Epic said, “If Apple maintains its power to kick a third party marketplace off iOS at its sole discretion, no reasonable developer would be willing to utilize a third party app store, because they could be permanently separated from their audience at any time.”

The Implications and Next Steps

Apple’s move to terminate Epic’s developer account effectively blocks the game company’s plans to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS devices in the EU, at least for now. This decision could have far-reaching implications for the implementation of the DMA and the future of app distribution on iOS.

Epic Games has vowed to “continue to fight to bring true competition and choice to iOS devices in Europe and around the world.” The company has suggested that it may file a complaint with European regulators, arguing that Apple’s actions violate the spirit and intent of the DMA.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has not yet commented on the situation. However, if it decides to investigate Apple’s actions, it could potentially lead to further legal battles and fines for the tech giant.

The ongoing feud between Epic Games and Apple has taken a dramatic turn, with Apple effectively blocking Epic’s plans to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS devices in the EU. While the DMA was intended to introduce more competition and choice in the app distribution market, Apple’s decision to terminate Epic’s developer account raises questions about the tech giant’s commitment to complying with the new regulations.

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Vineet Maheshwari is a passionate blogger and relationship oriented digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience in SEO, PPC management, web analytics, domain investing, affiliate marketing and digital strategy. He has helped high tech brands connect with customers in an engaging manner, thereby ensuring that high quality leads are generated over time.
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