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Apple Escalates Epic Games Tiff, Threatens to Pull Developer Access

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Epic Games said Apple has taken their fast-escalating battle to yet a another level, threatening to cut off the maker of the popular online game Fortnite from development tools needed to make software for Apple’s IOS and Mac operating systems. 

“Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and has informed Epic that on Friday, August 28, Apple will terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools,” Epic Games said in a statement tweeted out Monday. “We are asking the court to stop this retaliation.”

In a planned, strategic resistance move last week, Epic Games began directing its users to purchase in-app currency directly from the gamemaker at a 20% discount, and not through the app stores of Apple and Google, which take a 30% revenue cut. 

Also read: Apple and Google App Store Hegemony Challenged by 'Fortnite' Maker Epic Games

Epic’s apps were quickly banned from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. And Epic filed lawsuits against both tech giants, charging unfair trade practices, that same day (Friday).

In the past, video streaming companies have also chafed under app store revenue demands. In 2018, for example, Netflix stopped letting new users sign up for its service through apps they just downloaded from Apple’s App Store, and instead directed them directly to the Netflix site. This way, the streaming service could avoid paying the 30% revenue split. 

In its Northern California federal court filing issued Monday, Epic is seeking a preliminary injunction stopping Apple from cutting off the company’s developer accounts. Doing so would do harm to Epic products, which also include Unreal Engine, a real-time 3D tool the company markets to game developers

“Left unchecked, Apple’s actions will irreparably damage Epic’s reputation among Fortnite users and be catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business,” Epic said in its filing. “If the Unreal Engine can no longer support Apple platforms, the software developers that use it will be forced to use alternatives. The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable.”

Last week, Apple issued this statement: “Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.”