Apple in mid-August said that it would terminate Epic Games' developer account if the Fortnite app continued to break the App Store rules, and today, Apple followed through with that threat and removed Epic's access to the Epic Games account.
Fortnite has been unavailable for a few weeks, but other Epic Games titles like Battle Breakers and Infinity Blade Stickers were still in the App Store. Now that the Epic Games developer account has been terminated, those apps are gone.
Searching for Epic Games in the App Store brings up no apps and on the web, the Epic Games developer account is blank. Though the Epic Games developer account is no longer available, Fortnite continues to work.
Those who have downloaded Fortnite on an iPhone or iPad can continue to play the game, but there's a catch - none of the new Marvel-themed Season 4 content is available because Fortnite is unable to be updated.
Fortnite has been in violation of the App Store rules since August 13, when it introduced a direct payment option that skirted Apple's in-app purchase system by allowing payments directly to Epic Games. Shortly after Epic blatantly disregarded App Store policies, Apple pulled the app from the App Store, leading to a lawsuit from Epic and a quickly escalating legal fight between the two companies.
Since Epic initiated the dispute with Apple, it has refused to back down from the direct purchase option added to Fortnite, and Apple has refused to allow the app in the App Store while the direct payment option remains. Apple told Epic that it was ready to "welcome Fortnite back onto iOS" if Epic removed the direct payment option and returned to the status quo while the legal battle plays out in court, but Epic has refused.
Last night, Epic sent out emails to Fortnite players blaming the unavailability of the new season on Apple and claming that Apple is "blocking Fortnite" in order to prevent Epic Games from "passing on the savings from direct payments to players." Apple in turn has taken to featuring Fortnite competitor PUBG in its App Store.
Apple originally wanted to terminate the developer accounts of both Epic Games and Epic International, a separate account linked to Epic's Unreal Engine used by third-party app developers, but a judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Apple from doing so. The judge declined to stop Apple from terminating the Epic Games account, however, telling Epic that it "created the situation" and made a "strategically and calculated move to breach" App Store terms.
Update: In a statement, Apple confirmed the account has been removed and said it's disappointing that the termination had to happen.
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.
Apple says that the termination applies only to the Epic Games developer account, and it occurred after Epic Games was provided with 14 days to comply with the App Store rules. The removal of the Epic Games account is Apple's standard process for all accounts that defy App Store policies.
Epic no longer has the option to submit apps or updates through its developer account and in-app purchases in the Fortnite app will no longer be a functional option for Fortnite players. Apple says that disabling in-app purchases will protect users as Fortnite's new season launches as Epic had been directing users to Apple's support staff to get purchase refunds.