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Epic vs. Apple judge warns of 'serious ramifications' for console makers

The legal battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former's decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store could have "serious ramifications for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft."

The legal battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former's decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store over a breach of platform guidelines could have "serious ramifications for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft and their game platforms."

That's according to U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers, who's been overseeing the case and in newly-issued court documents (highlighted by The Verge) suggested that Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all operate "similar walled gardens" to the iOS App Store. 

As such, any outcome that Apple's platforms could also affect those belonging to each of the big three console makers -- despite Epic arguing that console platforms are distinct from their mobile counterparts. 

"First, Epic Games avers that the iOS market is distinct from other video game platforms because Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft do not make much profit, if any, on the sale of the hardware or console--unlike Apple, which allegedly makes significant profits from the sale of each iPhone," commented Rogers.

"This distinction is without legal precedent under section 2 of the Sherman Act. Indeed, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all operate similar walled gardens or closed platform models as Apple, whereby the hardware, operating system, digital marketplace, and IAPs are all exclusive to the platform owner.

"As such, a final decision should be better informed regarding the impact of the walled garden model given the potential for significant and serious ramifications for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft and their video game platforms."

Rogers goes on to quash Epic's argument that the iOS platform is unique from other devices because home consoles and computers require electrical outlets and separate screens to be used, thereby prohibiting mobile play. 

Instead, she argued that those devices "could have significant overlap with the iOS platform" in terms of the consumers who use them, but acknowledged that there isn't enough information to determine whether consoles and PCs are "economic substitutes or are merely complimentary to iOS devices" at this stage. 

Rogers also granted in part and denied in part Epic's motion for preliminary injunction, preventing Fortnite from being reinstated on the App Store before the trial next year, while also issuing a restraining order against Apple to prevent it removing Unreal Engine support on its platforms.

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