Apple has officially terminated the Epic Games account on the App Store on Friday, following its Fortnite dispute and ongoing legal battle with the game studio over in-app payments in the battle royale game, the company confirms to The Verge. That means the app is no longer available on the iPhone or iPad whatsoever, even if you’ve once downloaded it once before — and other Epic games like Infinity Blade are also no longer re-downloadable.
Here’s Apple’s statement:
We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.
The decision to terminate Epic’s account was planned for Friday, although there was a dispute over whether Apple would be allowed to do so until a judge on Monday denied Epic’s motion for a temporary restraining order with regard to Fortnite’s removal from the App Store. (The judge granted Epic’s temporary restraining order with regard to Unreal Engine, and Apple tells The Verge that it has not terminated the other developer account.)
Apple says Epic will no longer be able to submit apps or updates using its Epic Games developer account, but users who’ve previously downloaded Fortnite on iOS and Mac can keep playing it.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney is taking issue with the wording of Apple’s statement, and reveals that Epic did try to submit a new build of Fortnite to the App Store:
Apple’s statement isn’t forthright. They chose to terminate Epic’s account; they didn’t *have* to.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 28, 2020
Apple suggests we spammed the App Store review process. That’s not so. Epic submitted three Fortnite builds: two bug-fix updates, and the Season 4 update with this note. pic.twitter.com/VpWEERDp5L
Earlier today, Apple promoted Fortnite competitor PUBG Mobile in the App Store, although Sweeney did the same on Twitter in a jab back at the iPhone maker.
Prior to today, Fortnite and other Epic games, including its trilogy of Infinity Blade apps, were still able to be downloaded on iOS if you or someone else on a Family Sharing account had installed them once before. Although Epic removed Infinity Blade and its sequels from the App Store and Apple forcibly removed Fortnite, the games remained findable in the purchased tab of an iCloud account, where they could be reinstalled.
That is no longer the case. Selecting Fortnite from your purchased tab now returns a message reading, “This item is no longer available.” The same is true of other Epic apps, with the exception of Houseparty, the video chat app and social network it acquired last year that still operates as its own entity with a separate Apple developer account. Apple’s action also removes the ability for Fortnite players to make any in-app purchases using Apple’s payment system, Apple says.
Update, 6:14 PM ET: Added Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s statement.