(Sun) – FORTNITE will stay banned on Apple devices for the foreseeable future, a judge has ruled.
Epic Games tried to overturn the game’s ban on iPhones and iPads – but was denied in courts.
It comes just over a week after Apple removed Fortnite from its App Store for breaking the rules.
Apple takes a 30% cut of money earned by apps through the App Store – and Epic Games tried to dodge this fee.
Both firms are now embroiled in a legal dispute over the ban.
US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Apple was fine to ban Fortnite.
But the judge ruled that Apple couldn’t block Epic Games’ developer accounts.
The judge also said Apple couldn’t prevent developers from using Epic Games’ very popular Unreal Engine – a tool used to make video games.
“The record shows potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself, and to the gaming industry generally, including on both third-party developers and gamers,” the judge warned.
“Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem.”
Epic Games will now have to comply with the App Store rules, or live with Fortnite being permanently banned from the iPhone.
As part of an ongoing PR war, Epic Games recently held a #FreeFortnite tournament with “anti-Apple” prizes – including Samsung gadgets.
Apple and rival tech giant Google have come under fire in recent years for operating alleged “monopolies” in which they stifle competition and take colossal cuts on sales made through their app stores.
“Apple has become what it once railed against: The behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic said in its lawsuit against Apple, filed in the Northern District of California.
“Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear.”
Fortnite is waging a PR war against AppleCredit: Epic Games
In a separate lawsuit against Google, Epic referenced the company’s now-infamous mantra, “Don’t Be Evil”.
“Twenty-two years later, Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought.”
Epic also attacked Apple on social media, launching a campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite.
The company urged players to seek refunds from Apple if they lost access to the game, and created a parody of Apple’s famous “1984” television ad.
In the parody, which quickly garnered hundreds of thousands of views, a female Fortnite fighter hurls a unicorn-shaped club to smash a screen on which an Apple-headed character speaks of “the anniversary of the platform unification directives.”
Apple takes a cut of between 15 and 30 per cent for most app subscriptions and payments made inside apps.
There are some exceptions for companies that already have a credit card on file for iPhone customers if they also offer an in-app payment that would benefit Apple.
Analysts believe games are the biggest contributor to spending inside the App Store, which is in turn the largest component of Apple’s $46billion-per-year (£35billion) services segment.
In a statement, Apple said Fortnite was removed because Epic had launched the payment feature with the “express intent of violating the App Store guidelines” after having had apps in the store for a decade.
“The fact that their (Epic) business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users,” Apple said.
iPhones with Fortnite still installed are being sold for thousands on eBayCredit: The Sun / eBay
Google also removed Fortnite from its Play Store, but the company’s spokesman Dan Jackson declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by Reuters.
“However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play,” he said in a statement.
The recent ban means it’s impossible to download Fortnite through the official Apple and Google stores.
However, handsets with Fortnite still installed are being sold for thousands of pounds online.
Most of the listings fall somewhere between $2,000 and $7,000.
That’s far above the typical price of a used iPhone, which could range from just a few hundred pounds to slightly north of $1,000, depending on the model.
It seems few “Fortnite handsets” are actually selling at these vastly inflated prices.
But The Sun has seen a “completed listing” – which means the product has sold and shipped – for $3,800 in the US.