Epic has been blacklisted by Apple
Epic won an important victory in its lawsuit against Apple earlier this month when the court declared that Apple cannot prevent app developers from linking to external purchase and payment systems, which is a huge deal. However, the majority of the ruling favored Apple, including a declaration that Apple does not have a monopoly on mobile games, that it has the right to collect fees on in-app purchases, and—this is the big one—a declaration that the Epic-Apple contract was valid and enforceable—and that Epic knowingly breached it.
Epic, understandably, appealed the decision, but it also indicated that it was ready to begin mending fences. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney wrote to Apple executive Phil Schiller, stating that the company has paid Apple $6 million as ordered by the court, disabled Epic payments server-side, and pledged to "adhere to Apple's guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple platforms."
In exchange, Epic requested that Apple reinstate its developer account, which had been suspended earlier this year, so that it could bring Fortnite back to the Mac and integrate the iOS version into its Unreal Engine development and testing processes.
But Apple said no.
Apple's legal representative responded, "Epic committed an intentional breach of contract and breach of trust by concealing code from Apple and making related misrepresentations and omissions." "The court acknowledged in its decision that 'Apple had contractual rights to act as it did.' It was simply enforcing those rights, as Epic Games' own internal documents show. Apple's termination of the [Dev Program License Agreement] and related agreements between Epic Games and Apple was also found to be valid, lawful, and enforceable by the court. Following that decision, Mr. Sweeney stated publicly that Epic "wouldn't give up [an alternative payment system] to get Fortnite back on iOS."
"Apple has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic's developer program account at this time, based on this and other statements made since the court's decision, as well as Epic's previous duplicitous behavior. Furthermore, until the district court's judgment becomes final and non-appealable, Apple will not consider any further requests for reinstatement."
Naturally, this did not go over well. Sweeney described Apple's decision as "another extraordinary anticompetitive move" and "a loss for fair competition and consumer choice" in a series of tweets compiled at epicgames.com. He also claimed that Apple lied about its willingness to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store if Epic agreed to follow its rules, and that the quote cited in Apple's response is "fabricated": "Thinking much more about whether we're going to live in a world where two platform megacorps dictate software and world commerce to everyone or whether the digital world and the future metaverse will be a free world," Sweeney said in a tweet, according to Apple. Wouldn't trade that away to get Fortnite back on iOS."
"Fortnite should not be blacklisted for contesting an agreement containing terms found to be unlawful by a court, which Apple forces on all developers as terms of access to iOS," Sweeney tweeted. "We'll keep fighting. The need for regulatory and legislative action is now more apparent than ever."
Whether it's fair or not, Apple appears to have the legal authority to keep Epic out: The ruling, which is available in its entirety on NPR, states unequivocally that "Apple's termination of the DPLA and related agreements between Epic Games and Apple was valid, lawful, and enforceable," and that it has the right to terminate such agreements with Epic and its subsidiaries and affiliates "at any time and at Apple's sole discretion."
Sweeney warned on Twitter that exhausting all possible appeals in the case could take up to five years.