Apple will ‘gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS’, but only if Epic Games is ready to follow the rules

Right now, Epic Games is waging a war against Apple and its App Store fees. As a result of those decisions, the popular battle royale game Fortnite is not available on iOS devices. But Apple’s ready to welcome the game back.

Of course Apple would like Fortnite back on the App Store — it’s a popular game, and players are more than willing to fork over cash for in-app purchases. Apple gets a cut of that profit, so reinstating the battle royale game in the App Store is an important next step. But, just like Epic Games, Apple is not going to budge on the current matter at hand. So the only way Epic can get Fortnite back on the App Store (and get updates released for the game) is to follow the guidelines imposed by Apple.

Here’s where we are right now: Late last night, Judge Gonzalez-Rogers made a decision that ultimately sides with both Apple and Epic Games. On the one hand, the judge determined Apple doesn’t have to put Fortnite back in the App Store right now as Epic continues to defy the guidelines. However, the judge also ruled that Apple can’t block the Unreal Engine from being distributed, so other developers won’t lose their tools.

Basically, Judge Gonzalez-Rogers made sure the Unreal Engine development tool isn’t revoked by Apple — even if Apple can still revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts. (Apple is threatening to do just that on Friday, August 28.)

Apple has issued a statement on the decision handed down by the judge, shared on Twitter by Mark Gurman today. Here’s that statement:

We thank the court for recognizing that Epic’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and is in their power to resolve. Our very first priority is making sure App Store users have a great experience in a safe and trusted environment, including iPhone users who play Fortnite and who are looking forward to the game’s next season. We agree with Judge Gonzalez-Rogers that ‘the sensible way to proceed’ is for Epic to comply with the App Store guidelines and continue to operate while the case proceeds. If Epic takes the steps the judge has recommended, we will gladly welcome Fortnite back onto iOS. We look forward to making our case to the court in September.

Now, unsurprisingly, Apple says it’s ready to welcome back Fortnite just as soon as Epic’s ready to follow the rules again. And, indeed, that’s what the judge suggested should happen. Epic is choosing to keep Fortnite out of the App Store while the case against Apple continues, a choice it can change at any moment.

Which would certainly make sense, because as Apple notes in that statement the next season of Fortnite begins on Thursday, August 27. As it stands right now, iOS users are going to miss out on at least the start of that season, and it could extend beyond that.

The timeline

So, a lot has happened. Here’s the timeline of how it all looks as of right now.

August 13, 2020

  • Epic Games updates Fortnite on the server-side, bypassing the App Store review process. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the process.
  • Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to Epic Games breaking the App Store rules.
  • Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
  • Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:

  • Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
  • Epic sues Google, too.
  • Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its decision to stand up against Apple.

August 14, 2020

  • Facebook says Apple’s App Store fees make it impossible to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

August 17, 2020

  • Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts for not only iOS, but also macOS. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2020.

August 18, 2020

August 20, 2020

  • The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its App Store fees down to a standard 15%.

August 21, 2020

  • Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or tournament, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.
  • Epic sought special treatment for Fortnite before it declared war against Apple and the App Store’s guidelines.

August 24, 2020

  • Judge Gonzalez-Rogers rules that Apple does not need to reinstate Fortnite back into the App Store as the legal battle wages on. The judge also rules that Apple cannot revoke the Unreal Engine development tools, but it can still move forward with removing Epic’s developer account for iOS and macOS.
  • Apple says it agrees with the ruling made by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, and is prepared to welcome Fortnite back onto iOS as soon as Epic Games is ready to follow the App Store guidelines.

So, here we are. Which “side” are you on in all of this?