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Epic Games loses again on restoring ‘Fortnite’ to Apple Store

An icon for Apple's App Store
Epic Games alleges that Apple runs its App Store as an illegal monopoly. The case is headed for trial next year.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Epic Games Inc. failed again to force Apple Inc. to put “Fortnite” back in the mobile app store while the game developer pursues its antitrust claims against the iPhone maker.

A federal judge in Oakland on Friday rejected Epic’s bid for a preliminary injunction that would have required Apple to reinstate the battle royal video game in the app store. Apple had removed “Fortnite” in August after Epic set up a direct-pay option for in-game purchases that circumvented Apple’s pay system.

It’s Epic’s second setback in its lawsuit alleging that Apple runs its mobile app store as an illegal monopoly because developers are barred from making their iPhone and iPad apps available through their own websites. Instead, Apple allows downloads and payments only through its App Store, and it takes 30% of the purchase price. The case is headed for trial next year.

In a consolation for Epic, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers stuck with her earlier ruling that Apple can’t cut Epic’s Unreal Engine from its developers’ tool program because the software used by third-party developers isn’t part of the antitrust fight.

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Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Unreal Engine is a suite of software used by developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting off Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company could no longer distribute Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic has said. Microsoft Corp., which makes the Xbox, uses the technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices, and it’s backing Epic in court.

Apple has said that Epic Chief Executive Tim Sweeney sought a “side” deal seeking an exclusive storefront for “Fortnite,” a move that Apple executives argued would fundamentally upend how the App Store works. Sweeney maintains he wasn’t asking for special treatment but rather for Apple to make that option available to all developers.


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