Up-to-date:Apple:According to Epic, there is currently “no legal basis” for the reinstatement their developer account. Original story here.
Last August, Fortnite was famously pulled from the iOS App Store after Epic surreptitiously enabled a direct payment option for V-Bucks, circumventing Apple’s In-App Purchase system and the 30% cut. This sparked a massive protest against Apple’s App Store rules that are monopolistic. The trial began earlier this year.
Recently, a new law introduced in South Korea specifically outlaws payment system exclusivity inside apps, and legally forces Apple to allow alternatives to In-App Purchase for digital goods. Today, Epic has announced that it intends to re-release Fortnite for iOS in South Korea featuring its own payment system.
Apple will need to restore Epic’s developer accounts, which were closed by Apple in August 2020 for violating the Terms of Service. Apple repeatedly stated that it would allow Fortnite’s return to the App Store if direct payments were removed. This was to ensure compliance with App Store rules. Epic has not been punished for participating in a court dispute.
Epic has asked Apple to restore our Fortnite developer account. Epic intends to re-release Fortnite on iOS in Korea offering both Epic payment and Apple payment side-by-side in compliance with the new Korean law.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) September 9, 2021
Epic’s tweet however suggests something different. Epic is aiming to launch Fortnite without a third-party payment system, as it has the support of South Korean law.
Apple has yet to update its App Store guidelines to reflect the South Korean situation, as the law has yet to be implemented.
Apple stated that it felt that third-party payment systems could undermine the trust of users in all App Store purchases at the time the law was passed. Critics will argue that Apple is motivated more by money than the truth. The removal of IAP exclusivity could threaten Apple’s 15%-30% profit center from in-app purchases.
In the next few months, a judge will make a decision regarding the Apple-Epic lawsuit. In May, the trial proceedings were concluded.
In the intervening months, Apple has already relaxed some rules under investigation as a result of settlements with others, including a notable announcement last week that Apple would allow ‘reader’ apps to link out to their websites for account sign-up, something they are currently not allowed to do.