Fortnite, the hugely popular battle royale game developed by Epic Games, was removed from the iOS App Store in August 2020 after Epic introduced a direct payment option that circumvented Apple’s 30% commission on in-app purchases. This kicked off a high-stakes legal battle between Epic and Apple that is still ongoing.
Recently, there have been some positive developments that suggest Fortnite could return to iOS devices as early as 2024. Here is a complete look at the situation:
Background of the Epic vs Apple Legal Battle
- In August 2020, Epic Games intentionally violated Apple’s App Store policies by adding a direct Fortnite V-Bucks payment option on iOS, bypassing Apple’s payment system and 30% fee.
- As punishment, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and terminated Epic’s developer account. Epic immediately filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple.
- Epic lost the initial court case in 2021, with the judge ruling that Apple did not violate antitrust law. However, the ruling did state that Apple cannot prohibit developers from including external links or buttons in apps to direct users to alternative payment options.
- Epic appealed the case, and on April 25, 2023, The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a 2021 order in an antitrust case.Epic has said it is willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Will Fortnite Return to iOS in 2024?
There are a few developments that suggest Fortnite could return to iOS devices as early as 2024:
EU Digital Markets Act:
- This new EU law, set to take effect in 2024, will force Apple to allow alternative app stores and payment options on iOS devices.
- This could pave the way for Epic to re-release Fortnite on iOS without needing to go through the App Store or use Apple’s payment system.
Epic vs Google Lawsuit Victory:
- Epic recently won an antitrust lawsuit against Google related to the Google Play Store’s policies and fees.
- This boosts Epic’s legal standing and precedent in the ongoing Apple case, improving the chances of a favorable ruling or settlement.
Tim Sweeney Teasing:
- Epic CEO Tim Sweeney had cryptically teased that Fortnite could return to iOS in January 2023, but nothing happened later.
- While the details are unclear, this suggests Epic has a plan or foresees a path for Fortnite’s return.
However, there are still challenges that could prevent Fortnite’s iOS return in 2024:
- Appeal Outcome Uncertain: The appeals court decision in the Apple case could take years and may not favor Epic. Until then, Fortnite remains banned.
- Apple Resistance: Even with EU regulations, Apple could resist fully opening iOS to alternative stores and payments. Lengthy legal battles could ensue.
- Technical Hurdles: Reintegrating Fortnite with iOS devices after a multi-year gap could introduce technical challenges for Epic.
Conclusion: Cautious Optimism
Recent developments point to a path for Fortnite to return to iOS as early as 2024. However, the Epic vs Apple legal battle remains tied up in appeals, and Apple retains full control over iOS for now.
Epic seems increasingly confident that Fortnite will eventually regain access to hundreds of millions of iOS users. But the company faces an uphill battle against a fiercely protective Apple. iOS fans should keep their hopes up for 2024, but also temper expectations given the complexities at play. One thing is certain though: Epic won’t stop fighting until Fortnite is back on iPhones.