The Epic and Apple public divorce is getting messier today, as the Fortnite developer has announced that Apple will be revoking its developer accounts on iOS and Mac devices, which will prevent the company from developing games for Apple’s platforms entirely.
According to Epic’s statement, the change will happen on August 28. The company has asked the court to stop the retaliation via a preliminary injunction on the basis that it would “suffer irreparable harm” if it were not able to develop and release any games on Apple’s platforms. This would extend beyond Fortnite, which was removed from the App Store last week after Epic attempted to circumvent Apple’s 30% in-app purchase cut.
Beyond Epic itself, this will affect developers who use Unreal Engine, the game engine developed by Epic but widely used by third party developers across the industry. Epic’s request for a preliminary injunction says that Apple is damaging its “entire business in unrelated areas,” and that, while it’s confident it will win its initial lawsuit, the company “will be irreparably harmed long before final judgment comes.”
[via Unreal Engine]
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.
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This is the latest development in Epic and Apple’s ongoing spat that Epic decided to take very, very public last week by baiting Apple into removing Fortnite from the App Store by including a “direct” purchase option for the game’s in-game currency that was cheaper than buying them through the App Store, but would prevent Apple from receiving its usual 30% cut of all in-app purchases. After Fortnite’s removal from the App Store, Epic followed up with a lawsuit, describing Apple’s hold on the mobile market as “anti-competitive” and “monopolistic.” Shortly after, a Fortnite parody of Apple’s “1984” ad premiered in the game on other devices, attempting to rally Fortnite fans into supporting the lawsuit. Google later removed Fortnite from the Android store, which was then met with its own lawsuit that used much of the same language used against Apple. However, Epic Games didn’t have any kind of animated parody ready to go for Google, implying that perhaps it wasn’t part of Tim Sweeney’s plan for that day.
Whatever the end result of all of this is, the bigger concern for most people should be on how this will affect smaller developers who aren’t raking in billions of dollars a year, because if Apple is going to have to lower its cut, this could be a good thing for companies who are losing quite a bit of money per each in-app purchase. This is assuming Fortnite doesn’t get some Spotify-esque exception that allows Epic to give Apple a smaller cut, rather than a widespread change within the company’s policies.