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Apple can continue to block Fortnite from its app store as it battles in court with developer Epic Games, a federal judge in California said on Friday afternoon.
Apple banned Fortnite from the App Store in August after Epic introduced a new payment system that circumvented the iPhone maker’s process, in which it takes a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases. Epic, which then sued Apple over the practice, had asked District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to grant a preliminary injunction that would make Fortnite available once again in the App Store while the two companies await trial, which is set to kick off May 3.
“Having reviewed the limited record, while Epic Games raises serious questions on the merits, the Court cannot conclude that Epic Games will likely succeed on the merits of those claims,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote in her decision. “Too many unknowns remain.”
Though Fortnite players will not be able to download or update the game on Apple devices, Epic’s other product, software tool Unreal Engine, can continue to be distributed via the Apple Store, Gonzalez Rogers ruled. Unreal Engine is used by Hollywood studios and many game developers who also distribute their apps via the App Store. Gonzalez Rogers found that banning the graphics engine from the App Store “could have significant irreparable harm to Unreal Engine and to Epic Games and its affiliates.”
The antitrust showdown between Apple and Epic is expected have a ripple effect in the tech world. It pits the owner of one of the most powerful mobile app ecosystems against the developer behind a hugely popular game with legions of young fans. Its outcome has the potential to remake how app stores operate and whether companies like Apple can levy a “tax” on in-app transactions within their ecosystems.
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