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Apple strikes back at Epic Games over restraining order request

The last week has been full of drama in the software development world, with Epic Games launching legal action against Apple for the removal of Fortnite from the iOS App Store and filing a restraining order to prevent the tech giant from shutting down Epic's developer accounts. Apple of course opposes the restraining order, saying that any damage done to Epic Games is “completely avoidable”.

Epic Games revealed that access to its iOS and Mac developer tools would be revoked on the 28th of August, all as part of Apple's “retaliation” against the company for implementing a direct payment system into Fortnite, bypassing Apple's own App Store payment methods. If Epic Games loses access to Apple developer tools, then it will hinder the company's ability to keep Unreal Engine updated to support third-party developers using the engine to make their own games for iOS or Mac.

New court documents show Apple's response to Epic's request for a judge to bar Apple from revoking its developer account access: “Having decided that it would rather enjoy the benefits of the App Store without paying for them, Epic has breached its contracts with Apple, using its own customers and Apple’s users as leverage.

In the wake of its own voluntary actions, Epic now seeks emergency relief. But the “emergency” is entirely of Epic’s own making. Epic’s agreements with Apple expressly spell out that if an app developer violates the rules of the App Store or the license for development tools— both of which apply and are enforced equally to all developers large and small—Apple will stop working with that developer. Developers who work to deceive Apple, as Epic has done here, are terminated. So when Epic wilfully and knowingly breached its agreements by secretly installing a “hotfix” into its app to bypass Apple’s payment system and App Review Process, it knew full well what would happen and, in so doing, has knowingly and purposefully created the harm to game players and developers it now asks the Court to step in and remedy.”

Apple accuses Epic of “improperly” seeking relief from the court and adds that it would be willing to reinstate Epic's developer tool access and put Fortnite back onto the App Store if Epic Games reverts back to abiding by Apple's terms and conditions.

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KitGuru Says: The full filing from Apple is full of spicy quotes, so it is worth taking a look for yourself if you're interested in delving deeper into the back and forth arguments at play here. One thing is clear so far, neither side wants to back down, so we may well end up with a multi-year battle between Epic Games and Apple, during which, Fortnite will no longer be available on iOS and Unreal Engine developers could potentially also suffer. 

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