Apple bans Epic Games from App Store until all litigation is finalised

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Apple has blacklisted Epic Games from returning to its App Store ecosystem indefinitely despite the games developer saying it would disable its own payments system, according to a series of emails published on Twitter and a blog post by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney.

Epic’s iOS developer account was suspended in August last year as a result of the company introducing a new payment system aimed at sidestepping Apple’s payment systems and 30% commission fees. The ban sparked the lawsuits Epic has raised against Apple, with the US lawsuit culminating in a mixed court ruling a fortnight ago.

The mixed court ruling found Apple was justified in terminating Epic’s iOS developer account as it violated App Store guidelines.

That decision has since been appealed by Epic, and the court is currently determining whether the appeal should proceed.

One of the published emails allegedly sent by Apple’s legal representatives — dated September 21 — said the games developer’s apps, such as its flagship game Fortnite, would not be allowed to return to the App Store until the US lawsuit was finalised.

“Apple has exercised its discretion not to reinstate Epic’s developer program account at this time. Furthermore, Apple will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and non-appealable,” the emails reads.

The message referred to the mixed court ruling, saying Apple was within its rights to terminate any Epic-related accounts from the App Store and is allowed to not reinstate Epic’s developer account.

In Sweeney’s tweets, he accused Apple of going back on its word to allow Epic Games to return to the App Store if it agreed to “play by the same rules”.

This was in reference to an emailed statement released by an Apple spokesperson a fortnight ago: “As we’ve said all along, we would welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else. Epic has admitted to breach of contract and as of now, there’s no legitimate basis for the reinstatement of their developer account.”

“Apple lied,” Sweeney tweeted.

“Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.’ Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users.”

Other ramifications arising from the US court decision is that Epic’s attempt to returnFortnite to the South Korean iOS App Store is now up in the air with company still being without an iOS developer account. This is despite South Korea recently approving laws that require app marketplaces like the App Store to allow alternate payment methods.

The court ruling will also influence Epic Games’ other ongoing lawsuits across the globe, such as two in Australia, that accuse Apple and Google of acting anti-competitively through their app store practices.

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