On Friday, Epic Games filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Apple’s decision to block its Fortnite app on iOS devices. The injunction brief states that more than 116 million gamers have played Fortnite on iOS, the game’s biggest platform.
Filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the motion states, “All Epic seeks is for the Court to stop Apple from retaliating against Epic for daring to challenge Apple’s misconduct.” Fortnite has been blocked on iOS since August after Epic enabled players to buy in-game currency without having to pay Apple or Google a 30% cut of revenue.
Apple and Google responded by saying that the move had violated app store policies. Subsequently, Fortnite was blocked from both iOS and Android devices, where it has a larger player base than on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, PC or Android. After the ban, Epic then sued Apple and Google, accusing them of violating antitrust laws.
Epic’s claim that Apple monopolizes the distribution and purchase of iOS apps will have to convince the court that those are actually markets, John Bergmayer, legal director of consumer rights group Public Knowledge, told CNN Business. Meanwhile, Apple reminded the game company that “the court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused.”
Apple also added, “We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.” The next hearing is scheduled for September 28. Last month, a judge ruled that Apple should not block Epic’s development platform Unreal Engine, which developers use to create games on Apple devices, but that the block on Fortnite would not be lifted.
The court’s decision prevents iOS gamers with Fortnite downloaded to their phones from accessing the game’s latest updates, which were released in August. Although Apple contends its policies are industry standard intended to ensure a consistent app experience for consumers, critics argue that the company’s 30% fee and requirement that all in-app payments be processed through Apple amounts to unfair competition.
“I think (Epic winning the lawsuits) would be pretty good for the markets overall,” said Mitch Stoltz, senior staff attorney of the non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. “You’d see more experimentation. You’d see more business models. You’d see more innovation.”
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