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Things are getting worse for Fortnite

Last month, Fortnite fans were shocked when Apple made the decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store. The removal occurred because Epic Games introduced a system of direct payment through both the App Store and Google Play Store, which bypassed the built-in payment methods for those storefronts. This move was found to be in violation of Apple's App Store guidelines, and after Fortnite was given the boot, Epic Games quickly retaliated with a civil antitrust suit against Apple. The two companies are now preparing for a legal tug of war; however, things have gotten progressively more difficult for Epic and Fortnite since then.

Now, Epic Games has filed for a preliminary injunction against Apple (a PDF of which can be viewed here). The idea behind this would be to get Apple to put Fortnite back on the App Store while the two companies go to court. Epic has argued that the loss of revenue is too great to allow it to continue while Epic and Apple are embattled. While this injunction wouldn't act as a permanent solution to the issues between Epic and Apple, it would allow Epic to continue selling Fortnite V-Bucks through the App Store while the case goes on.

According to the filing, "daily active users on iOS have declined by over 60% since Fortnite's removal from the App Store," and Epic Games is afraid it "may never see these users again." The document also pleaded with the court to consider the feelings of the fans who are unable to play their favorite game while these two companies go to war.

In the injunction documents, Epic argues its case as to why Fortnite should be allowed to continue being sold through the App Store while the court case proceeds. Epic states that around 116 million registered users play Fortnite on iOS, which makes up almost a third of the total number of players with registered and active Fortnite accounts. Furthermore, Epic states that 63% of Fortnite players exclusively play the game through iOS. Considering how massive Fortnite's mobile revenue has been for the company, that would seem to more or less check out.

This also means that more than half of the people playing Fortnite are unable to take part in any future updates to the game while the court battle goes on. This includes Fortnite's huge crossover with Marvel Comics, which includes an in-canon Marvel comic book and multiple variant covers. In other words, a lot of money and effort has gone into a collaboration that is now unplayable for a vast section of the game's fanbase. Epic Games is losing a lot of revenue and business in more ways than one right now.

It should be noted that Fortnite wasn't the only game to be affected by this debacle. In a development that comes as little surprise, none of Epic's games can be downloaded from the App Store any longer. That means that modern classics like the Infinity Blade series are gone for good, or at least until this court case is sorted out between Epic and Apple.

However, according to Epic's injunction documents, Apple is already casting doubt on whether or not Epic Games will be able to sell through the App Store any time in the near future. Epic alleges that Apple has made numerous threats regarding Epic's developer account. Epic quoted a communication between the two companies in which Apple apparently threatened to deny any of Epic's applications for a renewed developer account "for at least a year." Basically, this would mean that Epic wouldn't be able to re-apply for the privilege of selling in the App Store for that period of time, regardless of what verdict was reached in the court battle. 

In effect, Apple would be putting Epic Games in something of a financial time-out, which is what prompted Epic to file for the injunction in the first place. As Epic put it in these documents, the idea of Apple denying the company "the opportunity to access even a single new user among the one-billion-plus iOS users for at least the next year" was entirely unacceptable. Epic argued that the losses incurred from such an arrangement would be untenable.

According to the filing, the first hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 28. It remains to be seen if players will have Fortnite back on their Apple devices by that time. However, it should be noted that this is Epic's second attempt as getting the removal of the game overturned in recent weeks. While Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers recently ruled that Apple couldn't yet terminate the developer account used to support Epic's Unreal Engine, Apple was well within its rights to remove Fortnite because Epic "strategically chose to breach its agreements with Apple."

In other words, it's not looking terribly likely that this injunction will result in Fortnite being restored to the App Store.