“Fortnite” will return to iPhone, but only in the EU

Still from an ad created by Epic Games criticizing Apple for being similar to the book book a1984

Three years after Apple removed Epic Games from the App Store for violating its terms of business, the company was able to return with a developer account — and “Fortnite” — for use within the EU.

Apple terminated Epic Games' developer account in August 2020 after the gaming firm violated App Store agreements, setting off a years-long legal battle. Apple wanted to remove all Epic developer accounts, but a judge insisted that removing its Unreal Engine account would have a detrimental effect on its countless users.

Epic asked Apple to give it a developer account when it wanted to sell apps in Korea. Apple refused. The company said it would only allow Epic Games to return if it “agreed to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

Then, while Epic Games was pursuing legal action against Apple, the EU introduced the Digital Markets Act. As a result, Apple had to allow alternative app stores to operate in the region — which means we shouldn't stop Epic Games from becoming a recognized developer in the region.

“We have received an Apple developer account and will soon begin developing the Epic Games Store for iOS thanks to the new Digital Markets Act,” Epic Games said in an announcement. “We plan to launch it in 2024. Epic Games Switzerland AB will operate the Epic Games Store and Fortnite mobile store in Europe, and the Store team will lead development.”

There has been no announcement as to when Fortnite might return, but the new EU laws are expected to come into force from March 2024.

Opening third-party app stores

Epic Games disagrees with Apple, which resulted in the company being removed from its position as an App Store developer, turned out to be a controversy that was a long-planned campaign against Apple's fees. Epic Games said it should be able to sell games and in-app purchases directly to users, rather than paying Apple a cut of each transaction.

Ultimately, the European Union agreed that the Apple App Store should allow alternative payment systems, and this is at the heart of the Digital Markets Act. Apple is now forced to allow such alternatives and even entire third-party app stores, although it has of course made every effort to convince developers to stay with the existing system.

Thus, Epic Games may have lost the court case, but, apparently, they won the war — except its CEO Tim Sweeney doesn't think so. Calling Apple's opening to third-party app stores “more garbage” and “a new horror movie,” he criticized the company for “an insidious new example of malicious compliance.”

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