A few years ago, Fortnite’s creator, Epic Games, breached the iPhone App Store’s regulations on purpose to cause a dispute that resulted in Apple banning the game from its hardware. The goal of Epic’s lawsuit against Apple and Google was to pressure Apple into making significant modifications to iOS that would permit third-party app stores and/or payment methods. Epic lost that legal struggle twice, and this week’s decision on an appeal affirmed the earlier judgment.
Yet, I believe Fortnite is set to make a comeback on the iPhone and that iOS 17 will pave the way. But those who are desperate to play Fortnite again on their iPhone or iPad may not enjoy the requirements.
Of course, all of this is just conjecture. Until iOS 17 launches, I have no way of knowing if the iPhone will enable sideloading at this time. Also, Epic isn’t likely to make any declarations regarding the Fortnite iPhone version’s future now that it has suffered yet another humiliating legal setback. On iPhone and iPad, you can play Fortnite in a browser, but that’s far from ideal.
With the most recent ruling, Epic’s sole option for reintroducing Fortnite to iPhone and iPad is to comply with Apple’s guidelines and pay the 30% cut it has been attempting to avoid. Epic is hardly the victim in this situation, as I’ve mentioned before. We are witnessing a situation that it has created for itself.
Assuming Apple will permit it, Fortnite can return to the iPhone. Nonetheless, it would be a fantastic chance for Apple’s PR department to have Epic reapply for that lost developer account in order to have Fortnite relisted. Apple might serve as a reminder to the world that Epic erred by breaking the App Store’s guidelines. And to other coders, that would send a crystal-clear message.
For all developers with comparable goals, Epic’s latest Fortnite defeat of Apple is a defeat. They want Apple to permit the use of other payment methods and third-party app shops on the iPhone. A small victory for Epic was that the appeal was upheld. Apple has no control over developers who include links pointing to other websites where customers may buy digital products in their apps.
Fortnite would once again be accessible on iPhone and iPad if Epic returned to the App Store. That could occur immediately.
The alternative, more likely course of action is for Epic to keep battling Apple on this and wait for the release of iOS 17. When it does, Fortnite could be accessible on European iPhones and iPads as a sideloaded app. Keep in mind that, according to speculation, the iPhone will only support sideloading of apps in Europe. This is because Apple will be compelled by a local EU regulation to support sideloading on its devices.
Epic may even attempt to establish its own iPhone app store with a sideloadable app now that sideloading appears to be coming soon. The software would only be available to European users, but it may be a way to get Fortnite on the iPhone.
iPhone customers who were unable to access Fortnite for whatever reason did not really support Epic. Epic and other developers could try to persuade regulators in other countries to approve similar rules after Apple permits sideloading in Europe. Yet it will take a long time to win that war.