Judge stops Apple’s threat to the Unreal Engine, but Fortnite stays off App Store

Epic Games wins a temporary restraining order

What just happened? Epic Games has won an early partial victory in its battle against Apple. The former has been granted a temporary restraining order that means Cupertino cannot terminate Epic’s Apple developer accounts and cut the company off from iOS and Mac developer tools.
Following an update that introduced an alternative payment method to Fortnite’s iOS and Android versions, one that paid Epic Games directly and circumvented Apple and Google’s 30 percent cut, the Battle Royale title was booted from the companies’ respective stores.

Epic retaliated by suing Apple to have the game returned to the iOS App Store. The iPhone maker also promised to end Epic’s involvement in the Apple Development Program on August 28, something Epic said would be catastrophic for its Unreal Engine business.

In a ruling yesterday, US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said that Apple could not carry out its threat. “The record shows potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself, and to the gaming industry generally, including on both third-party developers and gamers,” she said, adding that Epic Games did not breach any contracts related to the Unreal Engine and developer tools.

“Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” said Rogers. “Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders.”

It wasn’t all good news for Epic, though. The company was unable to demonstrate that Apple’s blocking of Fortnite will cause irreparable harm. Rogers said the game wouldn’t be allowed back on the App Store until it adheres to Apple’s guidelines, which means dropping the direct payment option.

The temporary restraining order will remain in place until the court issues an order on the motion for a preliminary injunction. The full hearing on the injunction takes place on September 28.