It looks like Fortnite may not be allowed to return to Apple devices for more than a year. Earlier this week, developer Epic Games shared correspondence from Apple that stated it would be banned from the App Store “for at least a year.”
In preliminary court documents, Epic shared an email from Apple in which the latter said that “please note that we will deny your reapplication to the Apple Developer Program for at least a year considering the nature of your acts.”
Without access to the program, Epic would be unable to distribute its apps on the App Store, meaning there’d be no way for Fortnite players to download or update the game on iOS devices until at least 2021.
That message is in direct contradiction to Apple’s previous position, which would have allowed Epic to return to the program immediately if it dropped the lawsuit and abandoned the new payment system that kickstarted the ongoing legal battle between the two companies.
If Apple sticks to its guns, it would mean that Fortnite would be unlikely to return to the App Store until late 2021. The year-long ban is likely to last a similar length to the lawsuit itself, which is expected to run for around a year unless Epic wins the injunction it filed last week. In that motion, the developer said that it “is likely to suffer irreparable harm” from Apple’s ban.
Apple has launched a countersuit against Epic’s injunction, asking the court to “hold Epic to its contractual promises, award Apple compensatory and punitive damage, and enjoin Epic from engaging in further unfair business practices.”