Apple Declares “Resounding Victory” Over Epic Games Following Appeals Court Ruling

After the latest portion of a long legal battle, Apple has come out on top over Fortnite developer Epic Games, with an appeals court siding with Apple on nine out of 10 claims.

“Today’s decision reaffirms Apple’s resounding victory in this case,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC following the decision. “For the second time in two years, a federal court has ruled that Apple abides by antitrust laws at the state and federal levels.”

The initial ruling came in a year and a half ago (check out our extensive coverage), when California courts concluded that they could not prove that Apple was engaging in monopolistic behavior under federal or state laws. The trial did show, though, that “Apple is engaging in anticompetitive conduct under California’s competition laws,” according to the ruling. This was the one count that the court sided with Epic on, and this was upheld in Monday’s decision.

Epic was ordered to pay out for breaking Apple’s rules, but the judge ruled that Apple must allow alternative payments on the App Store, meaning that developers like Epic–whose games are currently not allowed in either Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store–can place links inside their apps to allow users to make purchases outside of the App Store. CNBC notes, though, that Apple may not be forced to allow outside payments in those apps, which will be decided in potential future hearings.

“Apple prevailed at the 9th Circuit Court,” tweeted Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney following the decision. “Though the court upheld the ruling that Apple’s restraints have ‘a substantial anticompetitive effect that harms consumers,’ they found we didn’t prove our Sherman Act case.”

“Fortunately, the court’s positive decision rejecting Apple’s anti-steering provisions frees iOS developers to send consumers to the web to do business with them directly there. We’re working on next steps,” Sweeney continued.

Whether Fortnite will return to mobile game stores in the future is still undecided. Epic is effectively banned from the App Store until all litigation is complete, and even then, it’s up to Apple and Epic to reconcile if the game is ever to return to the App Store. Sweeney seemed confident ahead of the new year that that would be possible, tweeting, “Next year on iOS!” Even then, he also said in March that when it comes to the metaverse, Apple will “either try to crush the metaverse or extract all the profit from it,” so that necessary reconciliation may be further out than Fortnite fans are hoping.

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