Apple says Epic Games must play by the rules if it wants developer account back

Fortnite Season 6 Hero
Fortnite Season 6 Hero (Image credit: Epic Games)

What you need to know

  • Epic Games has asked Apple to reinstate its developer account.
  • Apple has replied with a firm "no".
  • The company says it would welcome Epic's return "if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else."

Apple says that it would welcome the return of Epic Games to the App Store on iOS, and the return of games like Fortnite to devices like iPhone 12, but only if the company "plays by the same rules as everyone else," in response to Epic's request for the reinstatement of its developer account.

In a statement to iMore Apple said:

"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 offered further information regarding its reasons for rejecting Epic's request, which it has made in anticipation of new laws in South Korea that will let developers use alternative payment methods when charging for in-app purchases. The company says that in order to have its developer account reinstated, the first step to getting Fortnite back on the App Store, Epic would have to agree to a minimum requirement that it comply with Apple's App Store Review Guidelines for all of its apps that use Apple's tools and APIs, etc. Apple says Epic has consistently refused to do this in the past and hasn't indicated that it plans to change its mind, and that the company isn't willing to consider any requests without reassurance.

Apple further noted a court ruling in the Epic Games vs Apple case denying a request to undo Apple's ban of the Epic Games developer account and says the circumstances that led to this ruling haven't changed. It also noted that the court supported Apple's view that Epic had breached its contract, and that its request for reinstatement flew in the face of its own admission that if the court rejected Epic's affirmative defenses in the case that Apple's termination of its agreement with Epic was lawful.

As noted the request was made in advance of news laws coming into effect in South Korea that will stop companies like Apple from mandating the use of their own in-app payment systems. However, Apple says that the law isn't effective yet and that once it kicks in Apple still wouldn't be obliged to approve Epic's request, or that of any developer, for reinstatement of an account that was terminated prior to the law coming into effect, essentially, because the saga all took place before the law had been passed.

According to Apple, Epic stated in a letter that it was seeking to "notify" Apple it would be using some of Apple's SDKs, software, and testing services, but that this is not lawful without a valid license, as is using Apple testing services like TestFlight.

The response is likely to irk Tim Sweeney and Epic Games, the company's CEO took to Twitter noting "Korean law explicitly prohibits mobile app stores from requiring developers use their payment system for in-app purchases. Apple removed Fortnite from the iOS App Store in retaliation for Epic using our own payment system, a practice that's now barred."

It seems that "now barred" could be the kicker here, with Apple asserting the new law in South Korea doesn't change its outlook on the fact Epic Games breached its contract with the company before the law ever existed. We've reached out to Epic Games for an official response on the matter.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

4 Comments
  • It's a good thing for Audible, Kindle and a host of other apps that operate the exact same way Epic did, that their apps haven't been removed. I wonder why?
  • Audible, Kindle and a "host of others" don't operate the "exact" same way.
    It's difficult for the Anti Apple crowd to get by this but Apple puts out API and guidelines for an app. Epic has purposefully not complied, as others have, in order to further litigation.
    Fyi, it is not a secret, not to Epic, Apple, or anyone else who chooses to read beyond headlines.
  • They did not operate the same way. You could not buy Audible/Kindle material from the app. That was an Amazon decision, to avoid the 30% fee at the time. You could go to Amazon's web site and purchase content and then return to the app to view it, or buy it somewhere else altogether. That was within the guidelines. Epic provided an update that offered in app purchasing using a third party processor to accept payment, bypassing the Apple cashier. That was a breach of contract, and they new it at the time. It was calculated to engender this whole thing.
    Others took a different approach to mitigating Apple's fee. YouTube Premium charged about 30% more per month if you subscribed through the app, than if you went to Safari, went to YouTube and subscribed there. Google got the same amount either way. The consumer just wound up paying the 30% Apple tax (as it is known) rather than Google.
  • I got a great idea. Why don't both of them get over themselves get this $&^) resolved and do what's best for the consumer. PERIOD!!!