Update, August 18: Apple responded to Epic late Monday night, effectively telling the developer that all of its problems could go away if it removes the rule-breaking alternative payment system from Fortnite†
“The problem Epic has created for themselves can be easily remedied if they submit an update to their app that will bring it back to the guidelines they’ve agreed to and apply to all developers,” Apple said. “We’re very excited to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps in the Store…We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests above the guidelines that protect our customers.”
The new legal battle between game developer Epic and iPhone maker Apple continues to heat up as Epic says Apple will shut it down from the developer platform for Mac and iOS before the end of this month.
Epic wrote in a court filing (PDF) that Apple said its Developer Program membership will end on August 28. According to Epic, Apple’s move not only threatens Fortnite but also any game that uses Unreal Engine: “By August 28, Apple will cut off Epic’s access to all the development tools needed to create software for Apple’s platforms, including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple will never has claimed to have violated each Apple policy,” said Epic.
“If your membership is terminated, you will no longer be allowed to submit apps to the App Store and any apps that are still available for distribution will be removed,” the letter reads.
According to the filing, Apple informed Epic that upon termination of the program, a long list of tools and features would no longer be available, including software development kits (SDKs), application programming interfaces (APIs), and a host of other tools. Epic would also no longer be able to “make engineering efforts to improve the hardware and software performance of Unreal Engine on Mac and iOS hardware; optimize Unreal Engine on the Mac for creative workflows, virtual sets and their CI/Build systems; and adoption and support of ARKit features and future VR features in Unreal Engine by their XR team.”
Fortnite is currently available for Mac through Epic’s own digital storefront, which doesn’t violate Apple’s rules.
“The damage…will be non-measurable and irreparable”
“This would be an existential threat to the Unreal Engine,” Epic said. “The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable.”
Epic on Thursday effectively prompted Apple to pull Fortnite from the App Store by launching a new end-run around Apple’s rules for in-app purchases. Less than an hour later Fortnite was removed, Epic filed a lawsuit (PDF) accusing Apple of anti-competitive behavior.
“Apple has become what it once screamed at: the behemoth that wants to control markets, block competition and stifle innovation,” Epic claimed in its lawsuit. “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched and more damaging than the monopolists of yesteryear. With a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach is far greater than any technology monopolist in history.”