<img src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/uemobile-800×420.jpg" alt = "Epic is allowed to further develop Unreal Engine on iOS Fourteen days remains blocked on the platform thanks to a judge's decision. "/>
Enlarge /. Epic is allowed to further develop Unreal Engine on iOS, even if Fortnite remains blocked thanks to the decision of a judge on the platform.
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A federal judge in Northern California issued an injunction preventing Apple from terminating Epic Games' Apple Developer Program account. This would have had a significant impact on the development of Unreal Engine on iOS. At the same time, the judge left Apple's current ban on Fortnite from the iOS App Store after Epic tried to insert an alternative payment platform into the mobile game.
Judge to Apple: Hands off Unreal Engine
In an eight-page ruling passed Monday night, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers largely accepted Epic's argument that Apple's Xcode and SDK agreement (which is used to develop Unreal Engine on iOS) was differentiated from the program license agreement, against the Epic allegedly violated, foreclosed and segregated actions related to Fortnite.
"Apple's reliance on its" historic practice "of removing all" linked "developer accounts in similar situations or in broader language of the operational contract at issue can be better assessed with a full briefing," wrote Rogers.
Additionally, in a livestream Zoom hearing ahead of the ruling Monday night, Rogers told Apple, "Epic only owes you money … you don't have to take the step of removing access (for Unreal Engine development) … In terms of Unreal Engine, that seems overreach. "
Even if Epic ultimately wins the more elaborate argument on this matter, it would be "too late to save all third-party developer projects that rely on the engine that was discontinued while support was unavailable," wrote Rogers. Therefore, an injunction is needed to protect the status quo during an upcoming legal process. "Apple has chosen to be strict, influencing non-parties and a third-party developer ecosystem," wrote Rogers.
Judge to Epic: You hurt yourself
In terms of Fortnite, however, Rogers largely accepted Apple's argument that any recent damage to Epic was caused due to the game's unavailability on iOS itself. There is currently no "irreparable harm" to Epic, wrote Rogers, because "the current situation arises from (Epic's) own production".
"Your client created this situation," Rogers told Epic's attorneys at the hearing on Monday night. "Your customer is not coming to this promotion with clean hands … in my opinion, you cannot suffer irreparable harm if you cause the damage yourself."
In their decision, Rogers describes Epic's "Hotfix" insertion of a "Direct Payments" option in Fortnite on iOS as a "calculated decision to violate the allegedly illegal agreements with Apple by activating allegedly hidden code in Fortnite with the Epic Games (in) can collect app purchases) directly. "
Epic can reverse the damage done by simply disabling this hotfix and reverting Fortnite to the status quo that existed earlier this month. "The fact that Epic Games would prefer not to litigate in this regard does not mean that there is 'irreparable damage'," wrote Rogers.
Preview what's next
Monday's hearing mainly focused on the narrow question of whether immediate injunctions are needed to protect Epic from Apple's current and planned measures. But Rogers also previewed her feelings about whether Epic would likely succeed in its legal arguments against Apple's alleged monopoly power over the iOS app market.
"Epic Games is making this dish access the Apple platform for free while making money every time it makes a purchase on the same platform," wrote Rogers. "While the court assumes that experts believe Apple's 30 percent income is anticompetitive, the court doubts that an expert would suggest a zero percent alternative. Even Epic Games doesn't give away its products for free."
These arguments will continue to be reflected in a motion for an injunction on the case, which is scheduled for a public hearing on September 28th.