After more than a year of legal sniping between Apple and Epic Games, it seemed things tipped in the favor of the latter when a federal judge earlier this month issued a permanent injunction allowing iOS developers to direct users to third-party payment portals. But today Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said Apple informed the company that Fortnite will be blacklisted “until the exhaustion of all court appeals.”
“Apple lied,” Sweeney wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Sweeney then went on to include screencaps of an email he sent to Phil Schiller, who heads up the App Store and Apple Events. The email is dated Sept. 16, 2021, and in it, Sweeney notes that Apple has disabled payments server-side and paid Apple $6 million as ordered by the court. He also notes that Epic has asked Apple to reactivate its Fortnite development account—which Apple terminated last year—and assured Schiller that the company would adhere to Apple guidelines.
“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,” Sweeney wrote in the email, referring to the injunction issued earlier this month.
Sweeney then posted yet another screencap of a letter from Apple’s legal team. In it, Apple notes that Epic’s developer account had been terminated “for cause” due to an “intentional breach of contract.” It goes on to quote Sweeney’s previous public statements saying Epic wouldn’t trade alternative payments just to get Fortnite back on the App Store.
“In light of this and other statements since the court’s decision, coupled 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 reads. “Furthermore, Apple will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and nonappealable.”
Clearly, there’s no love lost between the two companies. This also isn’t the first time Epic has tried to get Fortnite reinstated. Last year, it asked the court to put Fortnite back in the App Store while its legal battles with Apple were ongoing. That didn’t end out well for Epic, as the court found Apple’s decision to nix the account was “valid, lawful, and enforceable.”
To be fair, at no point in the court’s injunction did it say that Apple had to reinstate the Fortnite app. In his email to Schiller, Sweeney also said: “Whether Epic chooses to bring Fortnite back to iOS consumers 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.” That line, as well as the Apple legal team’s mention of “duplicitous conduct in the past,” is perhaps an indication that the company is wary of Epic’s tendency for showmanship should it let Fortnite back into the App Store.
TL;DR—Don’t expect Fortnite to return to the iOS App Store, or any part of the Apple ecosystem, anytime soon, or at least not until the entire legal process has been completed. According to Sweeney, that could take as long as five years. Gizmodo reached out to Apple for comment on the matter and we’ll update this story if they provide an official statement.