‘Fortnite’ Maker’s Apple Fight Leaves Some Developers Wary – The Wall Street Journal

The legal battle between Apple Inc. and the creator of “Fortnite” is doing more than just fraying a nearly decadelong relationship. It is also prompting other tech heavyweights such as Microsoft Corp. to step in, as the feud has escalated to a point where it could upend business at makers of videogames, Hollywood productions and virtual-reality simulations.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, earlier this month threatened to pull Epic Games Inc.’s developer credentials—which are required to release software on Apple devices—after Epic introduced a way to buy virtual goods within the popular videogame that skirts Apple’s 30% commission on in-app purchases. The restriction would leave Epic unable to update “Fortnite” on iPhones and iPads—as well as its Unreal Engine, a software suite used to build mobile games among other apps and to create complex video effects and animations.

Epic appeared on course to win a partial reprieve on Monday when a judge hearing the company’s lawsuit against Apple said she was inclined to maintain its access to the tech giant’s tools for software developers but that “Fortnite” would remain out of the App Store. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said she would make a formal ruling soon.

“Apple has a reputation of going the distance,” Judge Gonzalez Rogers said during the hearing, which was conducted over Zoom. “It’s not surprising that they acted the way they did here, but as I said I think they overreached.”

The dispute has wider implications for the $120 billion global market for mobile apps, as it could upend how app stores and developers divvy up sales for paid downloads and virtual goods—or how apps accept payments all together.

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