Weeks ago, a judge ruled that Apple needed to change some developer terms as a result of a ruling in the landmark court case stemming from the ouster of Epic’s Fortnite from the App Store. But according to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney that doesn’t mean Apple is welcoming Fortnite back with open arms. Quite the opposite, in fact.
In a Twitter post in which begins with “Apple lied,” Sweeney shares a document from a law firm representing Apple that states “Apple has exercised its discretion to not reinstate Epic’s developer program account at this time. Furthermore, Apple will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and nonappealable.”
That seems reasonable until you realize that the appeals process could take many years. Apple hasn’t appealed the ruling, but Epic has, despite paying a $6 million fine as ordered by the court.
In her ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Apple was “contractual right to terminate its DPLA with any or all of Epic Games’ wholly-owned subsidiaries,” so it’s under no obligation to reinstate the account. Without developer access, Epic cannot publish any games or apps to the iOS App Store.
In his tweets, Sweeney, who has been very public about his feelings toward Apple and created the hashtag and marketing campaign #FreeFortnite, writes, “This is another extraordinary anti-competitive move by Apple, demonstrating their power to reshape markets and choose winners and losers.”
He shares an email to Phil Schiller in which he “promises that (Epic) will adhere to Apple’s guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple’s platforms.” He also demanded Apple “include buttons and allow external links that direct customers to other purchasing mechanisms without onerous terms or impediments to a good user experience.”
The terms of the ruling stated that “Apple…is hereby 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.” What that language means is somewhat open to interpretation, and since Epic is appealing it will likely change anyway.
This whole saga started when Epic added a link to its own Fortnite store for V-Bucks purchasing at a lower price than through the App Store. Apple responded by removing Fortnite from the App Store and booting Epic from its developer program, and Epic filed a lawsuit shortly after. Epic is also suing Google for similar reasons.