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Judge’s ruling won’t bring Fortnite back to the App Store

Epic Games won a temporary restraining order against Apple — but it wasn’t enough to put Fortnite back on the App Store for now.

Shortly after the two companies appeared in a virtual court hearing for their ongoing App Store dispute, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded that Apple’s action to restrict Epic Games’ access to supporting Unreal Engine was “retaliatory” and “poses potential significant damage to both the platform itself and to the gaming industry generally.”

“Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem. In this regard, the equities do weigh against Apple,” Rogers wrote in the court order.

But Epic Games’ request for a restraining order to restore Fortnite to the App Store was denied.

The Fortnite ban, Judge Rogers said, was Epic Games’ own fault, as it was a “strategically and calculated move to breach” Apple’s policies. Judge Rogers suggested that Epic Games flip the switch to the way it was on August 3rd and “return everybody back to where they were.”

“The court finds that with respect to Epic Games’ motion as to its games, including Fortnite, Epic Games has not yet demonstrated irreparable harm. The current predicament appears of its own making,” she added.

So while Epic Games will be, for now, allowed to continue work on its gaming platform, Unreal Engine, Fortnite won’t return to the iOS App Store until Epic reverts the new payment system that was designed to sidestep Apple’s App Store tax.

Rogers primarily dismissed Apple’s move to hamper Epic’s access to Unreal Engine on the basis of the fact that it creates “havoc to bystanders” which in this case are third-party game developers. Last week, Microsoft, which employs Unreal Engine for its mobile racing title Forza Street, released a statement expressing support for Epic Games.

Apple’s attorney hit back claiming that down the road, Epic may transfer such “misconduct” to its other entities like Unreal Engine as well. Epic Games, in its defense, argued that Apple’s clampdown is already damaging Unreal Engine’s business as developers have begun fleeing the platform.

We’ve reached out to Apple and Epic Games for further comment and we’ll update the story when we hear back.

It’s worth noting that this hearing was a preliminary one intended to restore balance temporarily until the court can gather data and go through more detailed arguments from the parties, which they’re expected to file within the next few weeks. The next court hearing is scheduled for September 28.

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