- It sounds like “Fortnite” isn’t coming back to the iPhone anytime soon.
- Epic says it won’t bring the game back to the iPhone unless Apple allows alternate payment forms.
- Apple says it won’t even consider allowing Epic back until the the companies’ legal spat is over.
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It sounds like “Fortnite” won’t be back on Apple’s iPhone anytime soon.
Based on the most recent exchanges between “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, Apple’s App Store leader Phil Schiller, and a member of Apple’s legal team at Gibson Dunn, relations between the two companies are as icy as ever.
In a letter sent by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney to Apple App Store leader Phil Schiller, things start out friendly enough. Sweeney started by asking Schiller to reinstate Epic’s development account, which is needed for “Fortnite” to operate on Apple’s iOS.
“Epic has asked Apple to reactivate our ‘Fortnite’ development account,” Sweeney said to Schiller. “Epic promises that it will adhere to Apple’s guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple platforms.” He added that this “depends on whether and where Apple updates its guidelines to provide for a level playing field between Apple In-App Purchase and other methods of payment.”
In other words, “Fortnite” will only return to iPhones when Apple allows Epic to circumvent Apple’s App Store payment system – an argument that was at the heart of the recent lawsuit between Apple and Epic.
In a response, Apple’s attorney said the company isn’t even considering that reinstatement until the legal spat between the two companies, “becomes final and nonappealable.”
And that may not be for another five years, Sweeney said.
“‘Fortnite’ will be blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem until the exhaustion of all court appeals,” he tweeted on Wednesday, “which could be as long as a 5-year process.”
Apple has repeatedly refused to allow alternative payment methods on the App Store, citing security concerns, and kicked “Fortnite” off the iPhone last year when Epic quietly added a way to pay Epic directly rather than paying through the App Store.
Subsequently, Epic sued Apple.
The result of that lawsuit, which Epic is appealing, was relatively minimal: In Apple’s case, the App Store is being forced to allow app makers the ability to link out and sell items directly to their users via external payment methods. That means app makers will be allowed to directly link out to alternative ways for purchasing, giving them a new way to avoid App Store commissions.
Apple has charged app makers on its iPhone and iPad App Store a commission for sales, ranging from 15 to 30%, which Epic Games sought to circumvent in an update to its hit game, “Fortnite,” in August 2020.
Epic, meanwhile, was ordered to pay millions in royalties to Apple, and Apple doesn’t have to allow alternative forms of payment on the App Store. Moreover, Epic is missing out on untold millions of dollars from potential “Fortnite” players on iPhone and iPad.
Apple declined to comment for this story, but confirmed the veracity of the letter from its lawyer. Epic Games representatives highlighted a post on Epic’s blog published on Wednesday that built on Sweeney’s tweets.
“Apple lied,” Sweeney said in the blog post. “Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, nd the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.’ Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users.”
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