Apple Smacks Epic. Epic Sues Apple. Apple Goes Nuclear.

Apple goes nuclear in ongoing feud with Epic Games as it threatens to wipe the Fortnite developer from the App Store entirely.

Apple has delivered Epic Games an ultimatum. Comply, or have its Apple Developer Program account terminated on August 28, 2020. | Source: Image: Josh Edelson / AFP

  • Apple has threatened to revoke Epic Games’ Developer Program membership, effectively barring the company from releasing software for iOS and Mac.
  • In retaliation, Epic Games has filed an injunction on top of last week’s legal proceedings seeking to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store.
  • Epic cites irreparable damage to its business if Apple is left unchecked.

Apple has reportedly threatened to remove Epic Games from its Developer Program, block all developer accounts, and prevent access to iOS and Mac development tools if the Fortnite developer continues to flout App Store guidelines with a direct payment feature circumventing Apple’s 30% cut of profits.

The move could see Epic prevented from releasing software and applications on both Mac and iOS, potentially barring third-party developers from using the company’s Unreal Engine to develop for Apple’s platforms.

Apple’s ban on the Unreal Engine will have wider consequences beyond gaming. | Source: Twitter

Ongoing Feud

It’s the latest chapter in the ongoing feud between the two, ignited last week when Epic introduced a permanent 20% discount on all purchases of Fortnite’s V-Bucks in-game currency, only available for mobile players if they used Epic’s newly-implemented ‘Epic direct payment’ option. The move effectively allowed Epic to avoid the 30% of sales that Apple’s bag with each transaction of the App Store.

Epic Games
Epic undercuts Apple’s usual cut – and that’s not going down well. | Source: Epic Games

In retaliation, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, citing a violation of the Store guidelines, which require all payments to pass through Apple’s built-in payment mechanism. Epic swiftly retorted by filing legal paper, drumming up support among its player base behind the #FreeFortnite hashtag, and releasing a spoof ‘1984’ ad framing Apple as a Big Brother-style villain.

Apple Retaliates

Yesterday, Epic announced further legal steps, notably an injunction against Apple, stating that the Silicon Valley giant has threatened to ‘terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools.’

Apple has given Epic Games a deadline of Aug. 28 to remove the ‘Epic direct payment’ option. Should Epic comply, Apple will reinstate Fortnite on the App Store, and halt steps to withdraw Epic’s Developer Program membership.

Epic Games
Apple threatens to bar Epic Games from iOS and Mac. | Source: Twitter

The injunction seeks to reinstate Fortnite on the App Store (including Epic direct payment) and halt Apple from carrying out its threats while the action filed against the company by Epic last week reaches judgment. Epic explains:

“Epic will be irreparably harmed long before final judgment comes. Technology markets move swiftly. Left unchecked, Apple’s actions will irreparably damage Epic’s reputation among Fortnite users and be catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business. If the Unreal Engine can no longer support Apple platforms, the software developers that use it will be forced to use alternatives. The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable. Preliminary injunctive relief is necessary to prevent Apple from crushing Epic before this case could ever get to judgment.”

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said the company was in for a ‘hell of a fight.’ This latest move illustrates it has no plans to back down anytime soon, even in the face of Apple flexing its might and going nuclear. The tussle has very much been defined by a series of tit-for-tat retaliations, suggesting this one is far from over.

Last modified: September 23, 2020 2:24 PM
UK-based writer covering the video game industry. Email me | Bug me on Twitter
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