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The big picture: According to the CEO of Epic Games, Apple has turned down Epic's request to allow Fortnite back onto the iOS App Store and won't let it back on until Apple has exhausted all appeals after the recent court case between the two companies. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney angrily criticized Apple, believing it went back on its word.
In a series of tweets, Sweeney shared correspondence between his company and Apple about the prospect of unbanning Epic from the App Store. Sweeney says Epic promises it will adhere to Apple's guidelines if allowed back on in the first letter.
Sweeney, however, wants Apple to update those guidelines according to a court decision from earlier this month saying Apple can no longer stop apps from telling users about payment systems other than its own. Sweeney also wants to continue the discussion about the possibility of allowing competing app stores onto iOS, such as Epic's game store.
In its reply, which Sweeney shared, Apple said it won't consider any more requests to reinstate Fortnite until "the district court's judgement becomes final and nonapealable [sic]." The reply points out the court's decision that Apple was within its right to ban Epic and Fortnite from the App Store, and Sweeney thinks those appeals could last as long as five years.
Late last night, Apple informed Epic that Fortnite will be blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem until the exhaustion of all court appeals, which could be as long as a 5-year process. pic.twitter.com/QCD7wogJef— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 22, 2021
"Apple lied," Sweeney said when sharing the letters. Sweeney then quoted an earlier comment from Apple that it would welcome Epic back onto iOS when it played by the same rules as everyone else. "Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users."
This dispute started last year when Epic added an unauthorized payment system to the iOS version of Fortnite so users could make in-app purchases in the game without Apple getting its 30 percent cut. Apple banned Fortnite and Epic from the iOS App Store, after which Epic sued, claiming Apple's behavior is monopolistic.
Earlier this month, the judge ruled that Apple's behavior was anticompetitive but not monopolistic. The court said Apple had to change its guidelines to allow developers to tell users about outside payment methods. It also ordered Epic to pay Apple millions of dollars. Epic has since paid Apple six million dollars, but also appealed the ruling.
In his letter to Apple, Sweeney said that Epic had already disabled its payment system for Fortnite on iOS, though it can't update the game for those who downloaded it onto iOS devices before it was banned. Sweeney also said Epic would bring back the Mac version of Fortnite if the iOS version is allowed to return.