Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney teases Fortnite's return to Apple devices

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Fortnite is making a return to iOS after years of absence (Image: Epic Games)
Fortnite is making a return to iOS after years of absence (Image: Epic Games)

Now the dust has settled in the legal brawl between the two tech heavyweights, Epic’s battle Royal behemoth could return to iPhones later this year.

Taking to Twitter on New Year’s Eve, Epic CEO Tim Sweeny posted a cryptic tweet that simply stated 2023’. Moments later he clarified his statement with a picture clearly depicting a character in the snow looking up at a festive 2023.

Although Sweeny didn’t give any kind of time frame for when Fortnite will be returning to the App Store, the tweet would suggest that despite previously stating that the game would only reappear on iOS devices "when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with in-app payment", some kind of compromise has been reached. The tweet gives a clear indication that Epic has either figured out a way to make this possible or that hell has indeed frozen over, and Epic has decided it’ll settle for a lot of cash instead of all the cash.

Fortnite vanished from the App Store and Google Play on August 13, 2020, for violating Apple's terms of service by allowing players to buy the game’s in-game currency, V-bucks, at a discount directly from Epic rather than through the app store. The move denied Apple its industry standard 30% cut of sales.

Epic retaliated by suing Apple for 10 counts of antitrust and anticompetitive behaviour practices. The subsequent trial concluded on September 10, 2021, when judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled a split decision with her ruling in favour of Apple in nine of the ten claims brought by Epic.

Fortnite has made it impossible for new battle royale games to succeed eideeidediqxzinvFortnite has made it impossible for new battle royale games to succeed

Although Epic was ordered to pay $3.6million to Apple to make up for the revenue the tech giant had lost due to Epic circumventing payments to the app store, Judge Rogers did agree with Apple that Epic had broken the terms of its contract. She did also state that Apple had violated California anti-competition law by banning apps from mentioning other methods of payment within apps on their platform.

Fortnite returning to the app store was inevitable

It’s not surprising that Fortnite is coming back to and other Apple devices. It was clear that Epic’s lawsuit was more about proving a point than actually winning outright, and ultimately Epic got what it wanted from the proceedings: the ability to direct players to buy V-bucks directly from Epic rather than through Apple.

The App store version of Fortnite is also in dire need of an update. Although players who have the game installed on their devices can still technically play it, Epic has not been able to update the game on iOS since its removal from the App store more than two years ago. For a live service game that relies entirely on timed events like , no updates mean iOS players have either gone elsewhere, or bought themselves another device to play the game on, like a , , or .

Lastly, Epic needs to find a way to pay the record-breaking $520million , after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found the company had violated children's privacy and tricked players into unintended purchases.

The FTC confirmed that Epic will pay a $275 million fine for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and an additional $245 million, to refund players who made unwanted or unauthorised purchases, including purchases made by children without parental consent.

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Gareth Newnham

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