Apple has told Epic Games it will onto the iOS or macOS App Stores until the outcome of the lawsuit between the two is finalized. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney shared communications between the two sides, in which Apple said it won't consider reinstating Epic's developer program account "until the district court's judgment becomes final and nonappealable."
Apple yanked Fortnite from the iOS App Store in August last year after Epic added an alternative payment method to that Apple takes from in-app purchases. Epic swiftly against Apple over App Store policies (it around the same time for similar reasons). The Apple case in May.
Earlier this month, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled in Apple's favor on most counts, but there was one win for Epic. The judge issued a permanent injunction instructing Apple to let App Store developers direct users to alternative payment systems. Epic , and Apple has yet to decide whether to do so. The injunction is set to take effect on December 9th.
Apple lied. Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and 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.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 22, 2021
Given how long it can take to resolve appeals through the various levels of the court system, Sweeney says it could take five years until the case is truly over and Fortnite is back on the App Store. He also accused Apple of going back on its word.
Apple has said that "we would welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else." On Twitter, Sweeney shared an email he sent to App Store head Phil Schiller last Thursday, stating that Epic would abide by those rules.
"Though we can't update the Fortnite version that users still have on their iOS devices, we've disabled Epic payments server-side and have paid Apple $6 million as ordered by the court," Sweeney wrote in the email. "Epic promises that it will adhere to Apple's guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple platforms." He added that Epic would restore Fortnite on Mac as soon as possible if Apple restored the developer account.
Late last night, Apple informed Epic that Fortnite will be blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem until the exhaustion of all court appeals, which could be as long as a 5-year process. pic.twitter.com/QCD7wogJef— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 22, 2021
Things are more complicated when it comes to iOS. Sweeney told Schiller that bringing the game back to iPhone and iPad "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. Epic will resubmit Fortnite to the App Store if you adhere to the plain language of the court order and allow apps to include buttons and external links that direct customers to other purchasing mechanisms without onerous terms or impediments to a good user experience."
However, as Apple's lawyers wrote in a letter to Epic on Monday, the court affirmed "Apple's termination of the [Developer Program License Agreement] and the related agreements between Epic Games and Apple was valid, lawful and enforceable" following a breach of contract by Epic. Apple noted Sweeney said after the ruling that his company wouldn't give up an alternative payment system "to get Fortnite back on iOS."
Following that comment and "other statements since the court's decision, couple with Epic's duplicitous conduct in the past, Apple has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic's developer program account at this time," the letter states.
In short, unless you stream the game to your iPhone from your Xbox or PlayStation, don't expect to build armored walls in Fortnite on iOS any time in the near future.