Fortnite vs Apple: Epic Games victory, the App Store must relax the rules for video games
The trial between Apple and Epic Games has just resulted in a first verdict. The court awarded the video game studio a major victory. The App Store will have to relax the rules regarding in-app payments in video games. Despite this victory, Fortnite will not make a comeback on iOS.
Last year, Fortnite was banned from the AppStore for flouting Apple’s rules. As part of a cleverly orchestrated communication campaign, Epic Games had set up an alternative payment system to bypass the 30% commission demanded by Apple on all purchases. In the wake of Fortnite’s ouster, Epic Games filed a complaint against Apple.
After months of trial, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has just returned a first verdict. The court ruled in favor of the video game studio despite some reservations. Apple no longer has the right to prevent app developers from redirecting their users to other payment systems for in-app purchases. The Cupertino company can no longer ban “Buttons, external links or other inducements that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms” outside of iOS apps.
Fortnite will not return to the App Store yet
After a complaint from the Japanese Competition Commission (JFTC), Apple had already announced a relaxation of the rules of the App Store regarding alternative payments. From 2022, Apple will finally accept that some applications include a link to their website to offer Internet users to pay for their purchases. This waist easing is reserved for content reading applications, like Netflix or Spotify.
Video game apps were not affected by the easing. Back to the wall, Apple will have to allow game developers toembed a link on their apps. Concretely, Epic Games will be able to refer players to its website directly from the Fortnite app, if it makes its return to the App Store. The judge also considered that Apple was not legally obliged to accept the return of the game on its store.
According to the boss of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, this measure is not sufficient to justify the return of Fortnite on iPhone and iPad. “Today’s decision is not a victory for developers or for consumers. Fortnite will return to the App Store and iOS when Epic can offer payment through the app in fair competition with payment through the Apple app ”, announces Tim Sweeney. The CEO and founder of Epic refuses to have to relay players outside the application to get payment. Unsurprisingly, Epic Games has already announced its intention to appeal the court ruling.
Apple does not abuse its dominant position, decides justice
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers did not fully agree with Epic. According to her, Apple is not in a monopoly position in the market for transactions in smartphone video games. “The Court determined that Apple enjoys a considerable market share, over 55%, and extraordinarily high profit margins, but these factors are not sufficient to prove a violation of competition law. Success is not illegal ”, slice Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. As a result, Epic Games was ordered to compensate Apple. The studio is due to pay the California-based company millions of dollars for breaking App Store rules by adding an in-app payment system to Fortnite last year.
Despite his defeat, Apple welcomed the judge’s decision in a press release: “today the court ratified what we have always known: the App Store does not infringe competition law. The court recognizes that success is not illegal. We remain committed to ensuring that the App Store remains a safe and trusted marketplace, supporting a thriving community of developers and over 2.1 million US jobs, where the rules apply equally to everybody”.