Apple Wanted Fortnite iOS to Be a Timed Exclusive, Court Documents Reveal

Newly unredacted court documents have revealed that Apple wanted to make the Fortnite iOS version a timed exclusive, but the slow App Review Process of the App Store was a major obstacle to the deal for Epic Games.

Published: August 19, 2021 3:37 PM /


Apple Fortnite iOS exclusive mobile  Epic Games cover

Newly unredacted court documents in the Epic vs. Apple lawsuit have revealed that Apple was seeking to make Fortnite iOS a timed exclusive — but the lengthy ioS App Review process was a major obstacle.

Fortnite is undeniably one of the most popular Battle Royale games in the world. While it continues to do well on PC and consoles, it's been pulled from iOS and Android after attempting to implement its own payment processing service within the game. This led to Epic Games filing a lawsuit against Apple and another one against Google on the matter.

In the year since then, more and more court documents have been made publicly available and revealed the behind-the-scenes negotiations leading up to the release of the Fortnite iOS and Android versions. Many of the court documents are redacted in some fashion, but a new batch with fewer redactions has popped up online and it has some pretty interesting pieces of information — one of which was an attempt by Apple to make the Fortnite iOS version a timed exclusive.

Apple Fortnite iOS exclusive mobile  Epic Games slice

Epic Games Had Big Problems With the Fortnite iOS App Review Process

Dozens of court documents were posted online by The Verge, detailing the inner workings of Apple and Epic Games in the months leading up to the Fortnite iOS launch. Surprisingly, Apple was close to getting a timed exclusivity deal for the game, but the App Review Process proved to be too big of an obstacle.

As one court document notes, the service-level agreement for the iOS App Store was proving to be a major bottleneck for the cross-platform game getting updates out to users quickly.

1. We've asked them what it would take to make Fortnite exclusive to iOS on mobile (for a limited time) and they had one clear answer: 2-hour App Review. In  the long run, Tim Sweeney (Epic CEO) wants a more elegant "trusted developer" program, but in the short-term our App. Review, even with a 48 hour SLA, would be a bottleneck for their entire ecosystem of updates. They have to update every platform simultaneously or the cross-platform matchmaking breaks. Sony and Microsoft have guaranteed a 2-4 hour SLA. With a weekly content update cadence, getting stuck in App Review is their single biggest concern/risk.

This document also notes that Sony and Microsoft guaranteed Epic Games a 2–4 hour release window for updates, ensuring that the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game weren't too far behind updates deployed to PC.

Unfortunately, Apple is a bit slow with the whole process and can only promise to get an update out the door within 48 hours due to "shortcomings" with an internal system as noted in another document. There were other elements in play, too — Apple was also discussing bringing Spyjinx and Rocket League onto iOS in the future.

As we know by now, Fortnite was ultimately pulled from the iOS App Store due to Epic Games' conflict with the company. It will be some time before this legal battle is resolved, but it has certainly revealed some interesting facts about the problems with Apple's internal processes.

What do you think of the iOS App Store's 48-hour turnaround time for app updates? Do you think Epic Games will ultimately win its legal battles against Apple and Google? Let us know in the comments below!

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