The Epic Games vs. Apple trial isn’t set to begin until next year, and in the meantime, there was concern that Apple would disable Unreal Engine support on its devices. This would leave a huge number of developers without the ability to maintain or develop games on iOS and Mac, but a judge has stepped in. A previously temporary restraining order that barred Apple from doing this has been made permanent in the lead up to the trial.
In an order filed on October 9, United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said that all parties “in active concert or participation with Apple” are forbidden from taking action against “Epic Affiliates” in regard to Apple’s developer program, on the basis of Epic Games using direct payment methods to circumvent Apple’s own payment system.
“This preliminary injunction supersedes the prior temporary restraining order,” the order continued, adding that it will remain in effect for the duration of the litigation.
Explaining the decision, the order mentioned the public’s interest and the potential damage that could come from removing the Unreal Engine from iOS devices.
“The record shows potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself and to the gaming industry generally, including on both third-party developers and gamers,” it reads. “The public context in which this injury arises differs significantly: Not only has the underlying agreement not been breached but the economy is in dire need of increasing avenues for creativity and innovation, not eliminating them.”
Though Unreal Engine will remain supported on Apple devices, it will be several months before there is a chance of that happening for Fortnite. The game had well over 100 million players on iOS, with about 73 million players only using that platform for the game. They accounted for about 10% of daily users for the game across all platforms.
The trial, which will not have a jury, will begin on May 3, 2021. Depending on the status of the pandemic, it could be either in-person or conducted virtually.
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