After months of waiting, today brings a major development in the Epic vs. Apple court case, sparked by Fortnite’s removal from the iOS app store.
In a ruling which may be seen as a win for both sides, California’s Judge Gonzalez-Rogers decided that Apple was free to control the payment system of its own platform, as Epic had failed to prove the iPhone maker held a monopoly as defined by antitrust laws.
However, Gonzalez-Rogers also decided Apple could not block developers linking out to alternative payment methods from within apps, as that would constitute “anti-competitive conduct” under state law.
“[Apple is] permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to in-app purchasing and communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app,” Gonzalez-Rogers wrote.
Where does this leave Fortnite? The ball remains in Epic’s court for what it wants to do next. Does it push back on the decision that Apple is not monopolistic, and attempt to keep its own payment system installed within the game? As Apple wrote earlier today, in reference to Epic’s latest move to get Fortnite relaunched in South Korea, it is for Epic to remove this payment system from Fortnite’s mobile version before anything else.
Alternatively, could Epic take today’s decision to allow linking out to alternative payment methods as the win it has been looking for? Changing Fortnite to somehow offer this could see it back on phones sooner.
The ruling is currently set to be enforced from 9th December. Neither company has yet commented on the decision.