CARY – In a split decision for Epic Games on Monday night a federal judge allowed Apple to continue its ban on Epic’s wildly popular Fortnite but also said the internet giant could’nt remove Epic’s game engine Unreal from its ecosystem.

“The record shows potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself, and to the gaming industry generally, including on both third-party developers and gamers,” said U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

She added: “Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders.”

[Here’s a link to the full filing.]

Rogers did, however, say Epic had violated Apple’s guidelines in seeking to provide in-app purchases that evaded Apple’s 30% fees over which the companies are fighting.

Microsoft on Sunday joined Epic as an ally in the fight over the ban on Unreal, saying other companies and developers would be hurt by the ban.

“Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem. In this regard, the equities do weigh against Apple,” Rogers said, according to media reports.

The judge did say Fortnite could be returned to the app store if Epic met Apple guidelines.

“The Court finds that with respect to Epic Games’ motion as to its games, including Fortnite, Epic Games has not yet demonstrated irreparable harm. The current predicament appears of its own making,” Rogers wrote.

Another hearing is set for Sept. 28,

“The Monday ruling caps — for now — the high-stake public battle between giants Apple and Epic Games over the fundamental rules of iPhone’s App Store,” TechCrunch reports.

Epic also is suing Google for its ban of Fortnite over the same payments issue.

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