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The tech and gaming worlds have been anticipating the clash between two of the biggest software companies in the world; Epic Games (the developer of the hit video game Fortnite) and Apple.

The case took place on May 3rd 2021, but there’s no doubt this is something that will continue to shake the industry for many years to come.

Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the case was initially set out to take place using virtual solutions like video conferencing, but Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that such a big case should take place in person since it’s not only important, but there’s a huge difference to being in court and being sat in the comfort of your own home.

What Actually Happened?

The case started with Fortnite, the massive battle royale video game that took the world by storm a few years back but still has over 330 million registered accounts and clocked in a massive 3.3 billion hours of game time in just April 2020. That’s insane.

Now, if you’re an Apple product user, you know the only way to install apps and games, like Fortnite, onto your device is by downloading and installing it through the App Store, and Epic Games wasn’t very happy about this. This is because in-game purchases, like loot chests or Candy Crush bonuses and so on, are handled through Apple’s payment system, of which they take 30%.

Fortnite runs an in-game currency known as ‘V-Bucks’, which is where it makes its money, and if Apple is taking 30% of all takings, this is a considerable chunk of Epic Games’ profit, which is why they are taking them to court.

To begin with, Epic Games talked to Apple behind the scenes to see if any negotiations could be made where they could take payments without Apple taking a cut. This was back in August 2020, to which Apple refused. Epic Games then stated that users could buy V-Bucks directly from their website which the balance would then be set to their account, in which both Apple and Google (since Fortnite is also on the Google Play Store) fought back by removing the Fortnite app, making it unable to be downloaded.

What’s Happening Now?

According to Lawalways, so far, Apple has stood their ground and said that its system is staying the way it is. In the court case, the judge threw out claims that Apple made against Epic Games, for example, saying that Epic was attempting to steal money from Apple and would not be awarding any money beyond the terms of a breach of contract.

As of the middle of May, Epic has been given an injunction that states that Apple cannot remove Epic’s app developer account from the App Store, nor can it deny iOS developers access to the Unreal Engine. However, it has been ruled that Apple is allowed to keep the Fortnite app itself off the App Store if they wish.

Summary

For now, this means Fortnite has been banned from the App Store, and the case is set to continue in the middle of Summer 2021. This is a very interesting case to keep your eye on because regardless of the outcome, it will set the standard as to what developers and service providers can do. Of course, Google and Apple dominate the phone market with their products and operating systems, so the decision is set to be final on what you can and can’t do.

Robert Malcolm

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