FILE PHOTO: The popular video game “Fortnite” by Epic Games is pictured on a screen in this picture illustration August 14, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said on Friday it had terminated “Fortnite” creator Epic Games’ account on its App Store amid a legal battle over the iPhone maker’s in-app payment guidelines and accusations they constitute a monopoly.
Apple said its move will not affect Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, a software tool relied on by hundreds of other app makers. But the move means iPhone users will not be able to download “Fortnite” or other Epic titles through the Apple App Store. Players who have already downloaded Epic’s games will still be able to play but will no longer be able to make in-app purchases with Apple’s payment system.
On Monday, a federal court ruled that Apple could block Epic’s titles from its store but could not take action that would harm Unreal Engine while Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against the iPhone maker plays out.
Apple pulled Epic after the popular games creator implemented a feature to let iPhone users make in-app purchases directly, rather than using Apple’s in-app purchase system, which charges commissions of 30%.
Apple had said it would allow “Fortnite” back into the store if Epic removed the direct payment feature. But Epic refused on Thursday, saying complying with Apple’s request would be “to collude with Apple to maintain their monopoly over in-app payments on iOS.”
Epic’s decision all but assured its account would be terminated, the step Apple took Friday.
“The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this,” Apple said in a statement.
“Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight.”
(This story is refiled to fix typographical error in headline)
Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Tom Brown