Late last year, Apple courted controversy in the gaming world when the company summarily booted Fortnite’s mobile version from its App Store. Since then, users of the most popular battle-royale title out there have been hoping a trial between Epic Games and Apple would settle the matter. Well, mobile fans, buckle up for a rough ride because you’re going to hate this: Apple just said that in balancing equities between the parties, the court must weigh the effect of different harms to both parties, at its own discretion.
Woof, sorry Fortnite fanatics! That one is going to leave a bruise.
What makes this a real bummer is that Fortnite diehards had been drooling at Epic’s suggestion of seeking injunctive relief to allow fair competition in markets that directly affect their millions of customers. In fact, most Fortnite mobile users pretty much had their brain melted by the developer’s citation of both the Sherman Act and the California Cartwright Act as precedent in charging Apple with antitrust behavior.
Here’s where Fortnite fans are going to get mad: See, Apple cited the 2018 Ohio v. American Express Co. case to argue that anti-steering policies had been deemed acceptable in practice so long as no harm was shown to either side of any two-sided market. Getting frustrated yet, gamers? Well, we told you, didn’t we?
Admittedly, there is a glimmer of hope for anyone looking to get their slice of battle-royale greatness, with Epic’s own legal counsel arguing that “notwithstanding its promises to make...devices open to competition, [the current App Store guidelines have] erected contractual and technological barriers that foreclose competing ways of distributing apps to...users, ensuring that the App Store accounts for nearly all the downloads of apps from App Store on Apple device.”
Now, that’s what we like to hear, right, gaming fans? And keep refreshing our homepage, because a bench trial is just getting started and we have thousands of pages of unsealed legal documents that we’ll be analyzing over the coming days in lieu of our regular gaming coverage. Stay tuned!