Apple is threatening an entire ecosystem of game developers in response to the Fortnite lawsuit, Epic alleged in a new filing on Sunday.
The motion centers on iOS support for the Unreal Engine, which Apple has threatened to revoke as part of Epic’s broader loss of developer privileges. Epic has asked the court to restrain Apple from revoking that access while the case is ongoing. Apple responded to the request on Friday, emphasizing that it was enforcing previously stated policies, but not denying that iOS support was at risk.
Epic says removing support would be unnecessarily punitive, affecting developers who have built on Epic’s engine but have no direct interest in the case. “The breadth of Apple’s retaliation is itself an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly and chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple,” the motion reads.
The filing came alongside a new declaration from Microsoft in support of Epic’s motion, emphasizing how disastrous it would be to revoke Epic’s access to Apple’s developer tools. Any developer using the engine would be unable to patch security flaws or fix bugs once the access was revoked, effectively halting support for a wide range of games including Microsoft’s Forza.
“Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS,” said Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager for third-party developers on the Xbox, “and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage.”
Today we filed a statement in support of Epic’s request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine. Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer developers & gamers https://t.co/72bLdDkvUx
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 23, 2020
The conflict between Epic and Apple began on August 13th, when Epic announced a new in-app payment system for Fortnite that skirted Apple’s 30 percent fee — dubbed the Fortnite “mega drop.” Apple removed Fortnite from its App Store, citing its long-standing rules for in-app purchases. Epic responded with an antitrust lawsuit seeking to establish the App Store as a monopoly.
Apple responded to Epic Games suit on Friday, asking a court to deny Epic’s motion. Apple claims Epic created a false “emergency” by accepting direct payments through Fortnite in violation of Apple’s rules. Epic, the court filing states, asked for a special deal that Apple said would “fundamentally change the way in which Epic offers apps on Apple’s iOS platform.”
“Developers who work to deceive Apple, as Epic has done here, are terminated,” the court filing states, adding that when developers find ways to avoid its digital checkout, as Epic did, “it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid.”