Apple has lost a major pressure tool as a court awarded Epic Games a restriction order which blocks the Cupertino giant from revoking developer accounts or restricting the use of Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS devices.
However, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez decided during the same ruling that Apple doesn’t have to put Fortnite back on the App Store, with the game being removed when Epic Games introduced a dedicated in-app payment system which went against the App Store guidelines imposed by Apple and allowing Epic to bypass the 30% cut collected by Apple for in-app purchases.
According to the ruling, Epic, games haven’t been able to prove that it has suffered irreparable damage, at least for now. The clash between Apple and Epic Games seems to have been created and fueled by the latter, who decided to willfully breach the guidelines and challenge the status quo.
The same status quo is the reason why Apple can’t block access to Unreal Engine, since such a severe move would affect third-party app developers. Judge Rogers also added that Epic Games and Apple should pursue litigation without affecting others.
A motion filed earlier by Epic Games mentioned that Apple planned to terminate Epic’s developer accounts on August 28. Such a move would have caused significant damage to the Unreal Engine platform and the video games industry in general. It’s a moderate victory for Epic Games, but it does offer hope.
The ruling has a limited scope, and more arguments will be heard before a preliminary injunction could be granted. The injunction will determine if Apple will be able to take action against Unreal Engine, Fortnite, or other products that are offered by Epic Games during the trial. A full hearing for the injunction has been scheduled for September 28.
Both companies are preparing for a trial that could start in 2021.