Fortnite won’t be returning to the iOS app store anytime soon, according to a series of emails posted on Twitter Wednesday by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.
Epic’s iOS developer account was suspended due to the company’s intentional violations of App Store guidelines in August 2020, which paved the way for the corporate legal battle. But following the ruling earlier this month, the state of Epic’s iOS apps – in particular Fortnite – was not clear.
Emails posted on Wednesday, both to Twitter and to an Epic blog post, indicate that Epic Games’ various apps are not expected to return to the App Store for the foreseeable future. A letter posted by Sweeney – dated September 21 and sent by attorneys representing Apple – informs the company that Apple will not reinstate Epic’s developer account until the appeals are resolved, a process that could take years.
“Apple has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic’s development program account at this time,” the email said. “In addition, Apple will not consider any further reinstatement applications until the District Court’s judgment becomes final and without appeal.”
The message specifically notes that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, a judge in Epic vs. Apple, has concluded that Apple is entitled to terminate any Epic-related account it wishes in the App Store. Epic has already paid damages for breach of its contract.
The appeal channel for Epic vs. Apple is always on the move. Epic has announced plans to appeal parts of the ruling it lost, though the higher court has yet to agree to hear the case. Apple said it is still reviewing its legal remedy options. Apple CEO Tim Cook, however, told employees after the decision that he “looks forward to moving forward” after the decision.
Writing on Twitter, Sweeney called Apple’s refusal a betrayal of its previous commitment to reinstate Epic Games once the company agreed to follow the App Store guidelines.
“Apple lied,” Sweeney wrote. “Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press that they ‘would welcome the return of Epic to the App Store if they agreed to play by the same rules as everyone else.’ Epic agreed, and now Apple has given up on yet another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users.
Apple declined to comment on Sweeney’s tweets, but did not dispute the authenticity of the documents.
The move appears to scuttle Epic’s attempt to return Fortnite to the iOS App Store in South Korea, which recently adopted rules requiring support for an alternate payment method. He also leaves by fortnite future elsewhere in question. Epic had recently updates to old copies of Fortnite on iOS remotely to remove purchase options from V-Bucks, theoretically putting it in line with Apple’s rules. But without a working developer account, Epic cannot re-release the game in any country.
Still, the decision to publish the emails shows Sweeney is keen to keep the pressure on Apple, even if it means keeping Fortnite off iPhones. “We will fight,” Sweeney said on Twitter. “The need for regulatory and legislative action is clearer than ever. “
Late last night, Apple informed Epic that Fortnite will be blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem until all legal remedies have been exhausted, which could take up to 5 years. pic.twitter.com/QCD7wogJef
– Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 22, 2021
9/22/13:29 ET: Updated to include that Apple declined to comment.
9/22/14:20 ET: Added a link to the Epic blog post.