The legal battle between Apple and Epic Games is taking another turn this week. Shortly after Fortnite was booted off the iOS App Store for circumventing Apple's in-app purchase payment methods, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple for its 30% revenue cut. Now, Apple is revoking Epic Games' access to iOS and Mac developer tools.
Epic Games confirmed this in a tweet today, saying that Apple has notified the studio that its developer tool access will be revoked starting from the 28th of August:
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. We are asking the court to stop this retaliation. Details here: https://t.co/3br1EHmyd8
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) August 17, 2020
This is a clear retaliation from Apple, going beyond just removing Fortnite from the App Store and attempting to block Epic Games from having anything to do with iOS whatsoever. In response, Epic Games has filed a motion with the US District Court of Northern California. Here is a quote from the preliminary statement of that motion:
“Just over two weeks ago, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was asked during a Congressional hearing whether Apple has ‘ever retaliated against or disadvantaged a developer who went public about their frustrations with the App Store'. Mr. Cook testified, ‘We do not retaliate or bully people. It’s strongly against our company culture'. But Apple has done just that. When Epic gave users of its app Fortnite a choice of how they wanted to make purchases, Apple retaliated by removing Fortnite from its App Store. Then when Epic sued Apple to break its monopoly on app stores and in-app payments, Apple retaliated ferociously. It told Epic that by August 28, Apple will cut off Epic’s access to all development tools necessary to create software for Apple’s platforms—including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple has never claimed violated any Apple policy”.
If Epic Games is completely cut off from the iOS ecosystem, then it will hinder Unreal Engine's support for Apple's mobile platform – something that would impact hundreds, if not thousands of development studios across the world. Apple has yet to respond to the motion filed by Epic Games but we should hear more from Apple's side later this week.
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KitGuru Says: This is a big move, particularly where Unreal Engine is concerned. Some of the biggest games on iOS make use of Epic's engine and if they can no longer have access to iOS developer tools, then they can't continue building platform support into the engine. We'll have to wait and see what a judge has to say, but this legal battle is certainly snowballing fast.