The Epic v. Apple trial has been ruled. Epic was granted a significant concession regarding the ability to allow alternative in-app purchases options. Apple, however, won on all other counts. Now the question is, where does this leave Fortnite? Fortnite has been expelled from the iOS App Store ever since August 2020 when it began offering its own payment options.
It seems that the game won't be coming back soon. The judge didn't say that Apple would have to restore the game. Epic and Apple have not indicated that they will return the game anytime soon.
Epic demands fair competition before Fortnite comes back
Epic appears to be saying that it is not happy with the ruling and will not restore Fornite yet. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that Fortnite would return to Epic when Epic can offer in app payment in fair competition against Apple in-app payments. This raises questions about whether the new rules will actually go into effect.
Apple claims Epic is what has held Fortnite back for so long. In response to a Korean law, Epics stated that it would be open to Epics return to App Store. This means they will agree to follow the same rules as everyone else. It also said that Epics would not be allowed to use its in-app payment system. Epic attempted to restore its app in Korea but Apple rejected it on the same grounds.
Apple's decision today requires apps to be able to link to third-party payment options via buttons. However, it is not clear if Epic will allow Epic to add the payment system to Fortnite. Apps can send users to another payment method if they wish. Apple cannot stop them. However, it is not clear whether an in-app payment option must be approved.
Apple must still restore Epics developer account
Apple is likely to make it difficult for other payment systems to provide seamless and integrated experiences. Epics may still require gamers to visit their website each time they wish to make a purchase. Although it is better than nothing, Sweeney's tweet suggests that he might not consider it fair competition.
This means that Epic may not be able to approve Fortnite's return. Even if Epic makes the necessary changes, Apple must still restore Epic's developer account and authorize Fortnite's distribution. Apple said it was open to the idea, but Epic still needs to approve Fortnite for distribution.
The question of when and if these rules will become effective is also a concern. The ruling does not take effect until after 90 days. This is assuming that an appeal does not result in the ruling being placed on hold. The likely outcome is that Fortnite will not return to its original state until Apple implements new rules. It is not known when this will happen. However, both companies must agree that Fortnite is compliant with new rules. It's possible that it will take longer than 90 days.