Fortnite maker asks judge again to return game to Apple’s app store – MarketWatch

The creator of “Fortnite” is taking another stab at getting a judge to bring the popular game back to Apple Inc.’s devices, this time disclosing that roughly a third of players access it through the tech giant’s App Store.

Epic Games Inc. late Friday filed a preliminary injunction against Apple AAPL, +0.22%  , reiterating arguments made in a federal lawsuit last month when it accused the tech giant of monopolistic behavior after pulling “Fortnite” from the App Store. The closely held software developer also sued Google GOOG, +1.73%    GOOGL, +1.88%   for removing the game from its Google Play store the same day.

Apple and Google made that move after Epic introduced an in-game payment system that would skirt the 30% fee certain developers are required to pay the companies for in-app purchases.

Epic said that more than 116 million registered “Fortnite” players have accessed the survival-shooter game through a device running Apple’s iOS operating system, making it the game’s largest platform. Of those players, Epic said 63% only play “Fortnite” this way. The game has 350 million registered players overall, according to Epic.

Apple declined to comment Saturday on Epic’s latest filing. Apple has previously said Epic has put customers in the middle of their fight and that it hopes to work with the software developer in the future.

Epic’s new filing comes ahead of a hearing scheduled Sept. 28 on its broader case, which seeks an end to what it describes as anticompetitive conduct with how Apple operates its App Store.

The dispute is the latest tussle between companies and app-marketplace operators. Companies including Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Spotify Technology SA have been critical of Apple and the commission it charges software developers.

Though “Fortnite” can be played on mobile devices as well as gaming consoles and computers, Epic said Apple’s moves have irreparably harmed its business.

Apple and Google have defended their business practices, saying the commission fees are necessary because of the services the stores provide, including security and safeguarding user privacy. Apple has also said its 30% commission is the same amount that most other app marketplaces charge.

A California federal judge ruled Aug. 24 that Epic can maintain access to Apple’s software-development tools needed to update its Unreal Engine, but that “Fortnite” would remain out of the App Store. 

While “Fortnite” is free to play, Epic sells virtual goods inside it such as character costumes and special modes. In July, the shooter-survival game generated about $52.5 million of in-app spending through the App Store and Google Play combined, according to estimates from research firm Sensor Tower Inc. “The continued loss of ‘Fortnite’ as a gathering place for users on all platforms will lead Epic’s customers to defect,” Epic said in its filing Friday.

Epic’s battle with Apple comes as the Justice Department is investigating Apple over antitrust concerns surrounding its App Store. Even so, some legal experts say Epic is facing an uphill battle.

An expanded version of this story appears on WSJ.com.

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