You still can’t play Fortnite on the iPhone as the legal skirmish between Apple and Epic Games continues to wind its way through the courts. The initial ruling from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers earlier this year was an almost total win for Apple. It was ordered to change just one thing about how the App Store operates, but Apple doesn’t do partial victories. It appealed, and now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted an injunction. That means Apple doesn’t have to unlock more payment options today, pending the outcome of its appeal.
This mess stretches back to 2020 when Epic baited both Google and Apple by adding non-approved payment options to Fortnite. By handling billing itself, Epic saves the 30 percent cut app stores take of many purchases. Of course, both Apple and Google pulled Fortnite for violating their policies. Epic sued, and here we are.
Android supports sideloading from outside the Play Store, so you can still play Fortnite on Google’s platform. Apple, on the other hand, operates the App Store like a walled garden where you have to play by Apple’s rules to gain access. Epic argued in court that Apple’s management of the App Store amounted to anticompetitive practices given its nearly 60 percent share of the US market. The judge disagreed, hammering Apple only on access to third-party payment options.
Apple made it known that it disagreed with that part of the ruling. Instead of taking its almost total win, Apple appealed. In its filing, Apple claimed adding third-party payment options to the App Store is a complex process that cannot possibly be done by the December 9th cutoff. It also raised issues with the previous court’s interpretation of California’s unfair competition law. The appeals court was more accommodating than Judge Rogers, giving Apple permission at the last minute to maintain the status quo until its appeal is wrapped up.
Apple might still have to make these changes, but it’ll be months in the future if at all. Epic Games has also appealed parts of the ruling, which will no doubt drag out the proceedings. Epic still hopes to convince a judge that Apple’s role in deciding what software runs on the iPhone is itself a violation of competition laws. At this rate, Fortnite might be yesterday’s news by the time the case is over.