After Apple removed “Fortnite” from its App Store and Epic Games sued the company, Apple informed Epic that on Friday, August 28, it will terminate its developer accounts. Epic is filing a restraining order [PDF] in an attempt to stop this action.
Epic Restraining Order
Last week, Epic Games added its own in-app payment processor to Fortnite in order to circumvent Apple’s payment system. As this is a violation of App Store guidelines, Apple removed the game. Knowing this would happen, Epic fired back with a lawsuit it had prepared, as well as a parody video mocking Apple’s “1984” ad. Google was also sued.
The latest update to the saga reveals that Apple will terminate Epic’s developer accounts, meaning that it won’t be able to use iOS and macOS developer tools.
Epic has filed a restraining order, asking a court to stop Apple from doing this. The order says that Epic will suffer “irreparable harm” if its accounts are terminated, claims that Epic is “highly likely” to succeed in its lawsuit, and that Apple’s refusal to let Epic access iOS is “denial of an essential facility.”
The balance of equities strongly favors Epic. On the one hand, Epic faces near-term irreparable harm from the imminent suspension of millions of Fortnite players from playing with their friends and family. And Epic faces harm from Apple’s retaliation in unrelated areas, most notably Apple’s attack on the viability of the Unreal Engine, the most widely used graphics engine in the industry.
On the other hand, Apple will not be harmed by issuance of the injunction. An injunction concerning Fortnite would at most cause Apple to lose some commissions, a loss that is fully compensable with damages. An injunction as to the Unreal Engine would not harm Apple at all, except deny it the ability to retaliate against Epic while the dispute is being adjudicated.
Epic’s argument is twofold: It no longer wants to pay the 30% “Apple tax” and it wants to launch its own app store on iOS, which Apple forbids.