Apple is barring the return of the online video game Fortnite from its App Store pending the outcome of its legal battle with the game's developer, Epic Games. The announcement means that the game's return to Apple devices may be delayed once again.
Apple said that it has decided not to reinstate Epic Game's video game on its App Store until the case is fully concluded. The company added that it has decided on the action as per the request of Epic Games' lawyers.
In a response letter sent by Apple's lawyers, the company said it has also decided to consider any request for reinstatement until a judge renders a "final and non-appealable" decision on the case.
The months-long battle between Apple and Epic Games intensified over the past few months, leading some to believe that it could take years before it is finally resolved. Epic Games had initially sued the tech giant for its App Store rules, which includes barring the game developer from using third-party in-app payment systems.
Epic Games lawyer, Tim Sweeney, said Wednesday that the case could take as long as five years given the unwillingness of both parties to back down.
In August last year, Apple removed Epic Games' Fortnite from its App Store for violating its in-app payment rules by providing players with alternative ways to pay for its in-app products. The developer then filed a lawsuit, which resulted in a trial that lasted for months.
Epic Games argued that Apple's rules constituted a monopoly because it forced developers to pay its steep in-app purchase commissions, which was the only way to access the hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users on its platform. The developer's lawyers said that Apple's rules harmed competition.
Apple reasoned that it need to control in-app purchases on games and software on its platform to ensure the security of its millions of users. Earlier in the month, a judge in California ruled that Apple could no longer prohibit developers from offering users alternative payment options outside of Apple's App Store.
The judge stopped short of declaring Apple's practice a monopoly and decided that it was within Apple's rights to remove Fortnite from its App Store. Epic Games has appealed the decision.