The judge in the Apple vs. Epic Games case has issued a permanent injunction, letting developers direct customers to their own payment systems through the App Store. The decision — filed the morning of Sept. 10 — makes one of the App Stores central policies illegal. The ruling also marks the end of Epic vs. Apple.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple’s “anti-steering” policies must be changed. Those policies generally prohibited and prevented developers from directing customers away from the App store, mostly for in-app purchases. This is the end of a case that Epic Games began in August of 2020 by reducing the price of Fortnite’s in-game currency, V-Bucks, for anyone that would purchase them directly from Epic. The ruling will have ramifications throughout the games and tech industries.
“Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app,” reads the ruling.
The end of the Epic vs. Apple
Apple has responded to the ruling, saying that “the court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law.” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that :Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment.” He went on to add that the ruling did achieve everything he had hoped for.
“Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers,” Sweeney said in a tweet. “Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”
The ruling follows a new South Korean law that allows developers to use alternative payment systems in their apps. The Fortnite-developer has asked Apple to reinstate its developer account so it can launch the game on iOS in South Korea.
“Epic has asked Apple to restore our Fortnite developer account,” Epic said in a tweet on the official Fortnite account. “Epic intends to re-release Fortnite on iOS in Korea offering both Epic payment and Apple payment side-by-side in compliance with the new Korean law.”
Epic has asked Apple to restore our Fortnite developer account. Epic intends to re-release Fortnite on iOS in Korea offering both Epic payment and Apple payment side-by-side in compliance with the new Korean law.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) September 9, 2021
Apple and Google immediately pulled Fortnite from the App Store and Google Play Store after Epic Game reduced the cost of V-bucks in August of last year. Epic Games then sued both companies for antitrust and anticompetitive behavior in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
This story is developing and will be updated.