Apple Can’t Block ‘Fortnite’ Creator From Developer Tools, Judge Rules

The legal battle involving the maker of ‘Fortnite’ could have wide implications in the global market for mobile apps.

Photo: cj gunther/Shutterstock

A California federal judge granted the maker of “Fortnite” a partial reprieve in its battle against Apple Inc., AAPL -1.63% saying Epic Games Inc. can maintain access to the tech giant’s software-development tools but that its blockbuster videogame, for now, would remain out of the App Store.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued the decision late Monday after a virtual court hearing in which attorneys for Epic and Apple defended their companies’ positions. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” Judge Gonzalez Rogers wrote in her ruling.

Apple said it would revoke Epic’s access to tools needed to distribute and update software across its devices on Aug. 28 unless Epic removed the mobile-payment system it introduced in “Fortnite,” which skirted Apple’s 30% commission on in-app purchases.

Though “Fortnite” is free to play on videogame consoles, computers and mobile devices, Epic allows players to buy virtual perks and access to special game modes. The shooter-survival game has more than 350 million players world-wide, according to Epic.

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