Apple threatens to cut off Epic Games from iOS, Mac dev tools

Apple is threatening to terminate Epic Games’ access to develop for iOS, MacOS, and other Apple platforms, according to a new court filing from the Fortnite and Unreal Engine developer.

Epic calls the action a retaliatory move by Apple that “will reverberate well beyond video games” that “will affect developers who use the Unreal Engine on Apple products in many fields.” Apple contends that Epic violated its Developer Program License Agreement when it released an update to Fortnite that bypassed the App Store’s payment processing system, and is giving Epic until Aug. 28 to address those violations.

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Epic Games’ Fortnite legal battle with Apple and Google, explained

After Epic Games filed suit against Apple for removing Fortnite from its App Store, “Apple notified Epic it was terminating Epic from the Apple Developer Program, blocking all Epic products from distribution through Apple’s App Store,” Epic said in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California. “Apple specifically stated it would terminate Epic’s access to development tools, including those necessary for Epic to keep offering the world’s most popular graphics engine, the Unreal Engine.”

Epic is now seeking an injunction to block Apple from terminating the Fortnite maker’s access to Apple’s development tools, saying that the move will impact developers who rely on the Unreal Engine:

Apple’s retaliation represents an existential threat to Epic’s Unreal Engine. OS providers like Apple routinely make certain software and developer tools available to software developers, for free or a small fee, to enable the development of software that will run on the OS. Apple intends to deny Epic access to that widely available material. Without that access, Epic cannot develop future versions of the Unreal Engine for use on iOS or macOS. Developers that intend to sell their apps for use on iOS or macOS devices will have to forgo the Unreal Engine in favor of other engines. The effects will reverberate well beyond video games; it will affect developers who use the Unreal Engine on Apple products in many fields. The ensuing impact on the Unreal Engine’s viability, and the trust and confidence developers have in that engine, cannot be repaired with a monetary award. This is quintessential irreparable harm.

Reached for comment, an Apple spokesperson referred Polygon to a statement released last Thursday, after Epic filed suit against Apple.

Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users. As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. 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.

Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem – including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.

For more on Epic’s legal battle with Apple, and how Fortnite came between the two companies, read Polygon’s explainer.

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