27 October 2020
Fortnite creator Epic Games has become successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order against Apple but only partly. The district court has ordered Apple to unblock iOS and Mac developer tools access for Unreal Engine. As far as the issue of Fortnite getting banned from the App Store is concerned, Apple has not been given any orders or specific directions.
The TRO has been issued in relation to Unreal Engine because it is something that affects game developers and publishers beyond Apple and Epic Games. This is the same reason Microsoft chose to voice its opinion and side with the latter on the matter. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, US District Judge, described the move from Apple as a bit of an overreach.
She specified that Apple has a contract with Epic Games International, S.à r.l. for Unreal Engine, and with Epic Games for Fortnite. These are two separate entities and it is the latter that has been accused of violating Apple's policies regarding in-app payments processing. On another hand, Apple is claiming both these entities should be considered as a single company as Epic Games International, S.à r.l is a shell corporation.
The way things stand now after the initial hearing, Apple will have to give back full Mac and iOS developer tools access to Epic Games for Unreal Engine. Rogers has said that the Cupertino-based tech giant is free to keep Fortnite off the App Store until and unless it complies with the store guidelines.