Bulletins

Apple blocks Epic from bringing Fortnite back to the App Store

Apple blames Epic's breach of contract and the ongoing appeals process for not reinstating the company's developer account.

A grayscale screenshot of Fortnite characters from Epic's "Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite" video

Apple tells Epic it won't reinstate its developer account until the Epic v. Apple appeals process concludes.

Image: Epic Games

Epic won't be able to bring Fortnite back to the iPhone, even if it agrees to play by Apple's standard developer rules and restrictions, according to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. The reason: Apple has "exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic's developer program account at this time," according to an email sent by Apple counsel to Sweeney that the chief executive has since posted to Twitter. And it won't consider a request to do so until the "district court's judgement becomes final and unappealable."


"Apple lied," Sweeney said. "Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they'd 'welcome Epic's return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.' Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users." As proof of Epic's willingness to abide by the developer program's rules, Sweeney posted an email sent to App Store chief Phil Schiller laying out Epic's intentions.

"If we get the account back, we'll bring Fortnite back to Mac as soon as possible, and we'll reincorporate Fortnite for iOS in our Unreal Engine development and testing process, which will benefit all of our mutual developers," Sweeney wrote in the email to Schiller. "Whether Epic chooses to bring Fortnite back to iOS consumers depends on whether and where Apple updates its guidelines to provide for a level playing field between Apple In-App Purchase and other methods of payment."

Sweeney was expressing concern about the Epic v. Apple verdict, which has forced Apple to allow developers to advertise and link to alternative payment options within mobile apps, and whether Apple would "adhere to the language of the court" and "allow apps to include buttons and external links that direct customers to other purchasing mechanisms without onerous terms or impediments to a good user experience."

The court did not suggest any one solution here, only striking from Apple's developer terms the guideline prohibiting the linking out to third-party payment options. And because Epic appealed the ruling, it's not clear whether Apple will have to comply in the 90-day deadline set forth by the judge's ruling. As it stands right now, Apple has yet to update its guidelines, and there isn't any agreed upon pathway for apps on iOS to begin advertising their own payment options on the web through links, buttons or other forms of in-app advertising. Sweeney, however, made clear in his email to Apple that Epic intended to republish Fortnite so it could advertise its own payment option within the app alongside Apple's system.

That said, in a Sept. 10th statement sent to the press, Apple said, “As we've said all along, we would welcome Epic's return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else. Epic has admitted to breach of contract and as of now, there's no legitimate basis for the reinstatement of their developer account."

Apple did not respond to Sweeney's concerns about the eventual implementation of the court's verdict. But it did sent a reply through its legal team. According to Apple's email, the iPhone maker points to Epic's "intentional breach of contract, and breach of trust" it committed by updating Fortnite in August of 2020 to include an alternative in-app payment system, the act that got Fortnite kicked off the iPhone and resulted in Epic's antitrust lawsuit against both Apple and Google.

Apple cites "Epic's duplicitous conduct" as another reason why it feels empowered not to reinstate the company's developer account, a necessary step in allowing Epic to republish apps on Apple's storefronts. It's unclear how long the appeals process will take, but Sweeney suggests it could be as long as five years.

Latest Bulletins

Mobile game revenue will decline for the first time in history this year, market research firm Newzoo now says in a revised outlook for the 2022 global games market. While the whole game industry is expected to contract by 4.3% — another first since Newzoo began tracking the market in 2007 — the company is predicting a 6.4% decline in mobile game spending on top of a 4.2% decline in console game spending.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon is planning to lay off thousands of employees, Protocol has learned, ahead of what the company has cautioned will be a slow holiday shopping season.

Keep Reading Show less

Google agreed to pay $391.5 million and make changes to its user privacy controls as part of a settlement with a coalition of 40 state attorneys general. The coalition accused Google of misleading customers about location-tracking practices that informed ad targeting.

Keep Reading Show less

FTX has filed for bankruptcy and the crypto company also announced that founder Sam Bankman-Fried has resigned as CEO.

Keep Reading Show less

Salesforce recently updated its internal policies to make it easier for managers to terminate employees for performance issues without HR involvement, Protocol has learned, a move that comes as the software giant looks to shed as many as 2,500 jobs.

Keep Reading Show less

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said fraud and scam reports comprise the top complaint it receives about virtual currencies — and that customers are finding little help from companies when it happens.

Keep Reading Show less

Elon Musk sent his first email to Twitter staff late Wednesday, warning of a difficult economic road ahead and telling employees they need to be in office for a minimum of 40 hours per week. "Sorry that this is my first email to the whole company, but there is no way to sugarcoat the message," he began, ominously.

Keep Reading Show less

Binance isn’t buying FTX after all. The crypto giant said Wednesday it has decided that it “will not pursue the potential acquisition” based on a “corporate due diligence” review.

Keep Reading Show less

On Wednesday, John Kerry unveiled a plan for a new carbon credit program aimed at mobilizing private capital to help middle-income countries transition away from coal and move toward renewable energy.

Keep Reading Show less

Meta announced it was laying off more than 11,000 employees Wednesday morning, slashing jobs in its recruiting department and refocusing its remaining team on AI discovery, ads, and its investment in the metaverse.

"I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here," Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a message to employees that was also posted online. "I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted."

Keep Reading Show less

Al Gore has one mission this week at COP27, and that’s to give climate negotiators what he hopes will be a critical tool to address the crisis at hand: an independent, global inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, down to the individual facility.

The Climate TRACE coalition just released the world’s most detailed inventory of global greenhouse gas emissions, which Gore, a founding member, is unveiling on Wednesday at the United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

Keep Reading Show less

Way back in March, your friendly Protocol Climate team offered you some tips for writing a climate plan that doesn’t suck. Surely you took that advice. But if for some reason you didn’t, the United Nations has your back.

Keep Reading Show less

Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said Tuesday the crypto powerhouse signed a deal to acquire rival FTX.

Keep Reading Show less

Salesforce is preparing for a major round of layoffs that could affect as many as 2,500 workers across the software vendor, Protocol has learned, in a bid to cut costs amid a new activist investor challenge and harsh economic conditions.

Keep Reading Show less

BlockFi has introduced a new digital assets interest product for accredited investors, after previously agreeing to shut down a yield-paying crypto product that the SEC said was illegal.

Keep Reading Show less

The Justice Department said Monday it seized $3.4 billion worth of bitcoin stolen in the 2012 hack of the Silk Road dark web marketplace.

Keep Reading Show less

U.S. election infrastructure is exceedingly secure, and voter fraud here is so rare it’s comparable to your annual chances of getting struck by lightning. Despite this, former President Donald Trump and a long list of allies in the Republican Party have spent the last two years questioning the overall integrity of the U.S. election system. Many of those allies are now candidates themselves, and their coordinated attack on the country’s status as a democracy is not a relic of 2020. Some have already started repeating these “Big Lie” charges ahead of next week’s midterms. And the social platforms that help them spread their message have prepared few measures to stop it.

Keep Reading Show less

The White House just laid out its climate tech priorities to reach net zero by 2050.

Keep Reading Show less

Coinbase said Thursday that it lost more users in the third quarter. But the decline wasn’t the disastrous drop that Wall Street was expecting, and that sparked a rally in the crypto company’s shares after-hours.

Keep Reading Show less

The Biden administration announced $9 billion in funding Wednesday to improve home efficiency, which could help support the installation of up to 500,000 heat pumps. With winter approaching and utilities warning of gas shortages, there are some major challenges facing the technology that money can be used to tackle.

Keep Reading Show less

Block beat earnings expectations, with strong growth largely fueled by its Cash App business. Traders sent shares up more than 12% after-hours Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

Stripe is laying off 14% of its staff, its co-founders said Thursday, as the fintech startup must start "building differently for leaner times."

Keep Reading Show less

Roku saw its revenue growth slow in Q3, and warned investors Wednesday that things are about to get worse: “A lot of Q4 ad campaigns are being canceled,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood during the company’s Q4 earnings call. “We’re seeing lots of big categories pull back. Telecom, insurance … even toy marketers are planning on reducing their spending.”

Keep Reading Show less

Green jobs and corporate climate pledges abound, but skilled sustainability professionals are scarce.

Keep Reading Show less

Robinhood reported a drop in third-quarter revenue but also a narrower loss on Wednesday, in a sign that it might be stabilizing its business as it attempts to recover from a staggering drop in the stock and crypto trading activity that fueled its growth.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins