A judge has blocked Epic Games’ request to reinstate Fortnite to the Apple App Store early, admitting she is “inclined” to let the battle royale’s removal stand for now, despite Fortnite Season 4 being just days away from release.
Epic had requested the court lay down a temporary restraining order against Apple relating to the planned shutdown of their development accounts. This planned action would restrict the Fortnite devs from distributing software — including the upcoming Season 4 potential update — to Apple products.
“I am not inclined to grant relief with respect to the games,” judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said on Monday morning during the opening day of the Epic Games vs Apple showdown, via a public Zoom call of the hearing.
Her reasoning behind retaining the Fortnite block was due to the fact she believes Epic was the instigator of the “spat” due to their move to place a direct payment method within their mobile app. This broke multiple iOS App Store rules.
“Your client created the situation. Your client can’t thus come to this court with clean hands,” the judge said to Epic’s lawyers during the first day of the hearing.
Rogers added the fact Fortnite’s long-planned fourth season is on the horizon did not, and would not, have bearing on her Monday decision either.
“Strategically, and in a calculated move, you decided to breach, and decided to breach right before a new [Fortnite] season,” she explained to Epic’s lawyers. “[Epic Games] cannot have irreparable harm when you create harm yourself.”
She suggested Epic simply “rollback” any payment changes they had made ahead of the August ban. Epic’s lawyer Katherine Forrest said this wasn’t an option due to the fact is “asking [Epic] to require consumers to pay more than they should.”
The judge did, however, deem that Apple’s recent move to not only block Fortnite from the App Store, but also any developer accounts connected to Unreal Engine was “retaliatory” in nature, and confirmed she was “inclined to grant relief” for the game engine.
Rogers noted that while Fortnite’s developer accounts are handled by Epic Games Inc, all Unreal Engine developer accounts are technically controlled by company subsidiary Epic Games International, therefore separating the two.
“Here it seems to me Apple has overreached,” she said. “The contract with Epic International has not been breached… [the move] does, to me, look retaliatory. I am inclined to grant relief with respect to the Unreal Engine.”
While Fortnite fans who play the battle royale on iOS mobile devices may miss out on the upcoming Season 4 launch, the huge update is still full steam ahead of all other gaming platforms.
Fortnite Season 4, which starts on Thursday, August 27, is set to be dominated by a Marvel crossover theme. A handful of teasers for new superhero skins have already been found in the battle royale code, confirming the rumors.
Epic also literally dropped the second in-game teaser into Fortnite; Thor’s legendary hammer Mjölnir crash-landed into the island over the weekend, leaving a massive crater in the middle of the ever-changing battle royale arena.