UPDATE- Dev. Account Terminated- August 28th
Today Apple officially terminated Epic Games’ developer account, adding fuel to the fire in what is already an ugly battle. Apple in a statement says they are “disappointed” they had to terminate the account but do say that Epic attempted to get Fortnite back on the App Store multiple times despite breaking guidelines.
We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.Apple statement
The premise of this whole argument being put forward by Epic Games is that Apple’s 30% cut is unfair, with others such as Facebook agreeing. Bloomberg reports that Apple, since January of 2012 has made $360 million from Epic Games, including in-app purchases.
Most developers would never publicly criticize Apple because the company’s App Store is such a vital source of users and revenue. Epic is in a different situation because Fortnite is widely used beyond Apple’s platform. Still, losing access to the App Store will likely hurt Epic financially. Since January 2012, Epic mobile games have been downloaded more than 159 million times through the App Store, generating about $1.2 billion in consumer spending, with roughly $360 million of this going to Apple, according to estimates from Sensor Tower.
In response to the decision by Apple, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says that Epic Games did not spam the App Store review process as Apple claims. Instead, Tim says they submitted an update to the App Store with Fortnite’s new season, Season 14 in case Apple decided to put the app through.
UPDATE- First Hearing- August 24th
Typical first hearings are plain and boring, this one wasn’t the case. Lawyers representing Apple and Epic Games went head-to-head clashing over the basis of the legal lawsuit and the facts. The biggest takeaway from the hearing is Judge Gonzalez Rogers stating she is “inclined” to side with Epic GamThe es on the issue of the Unreal Engine, as Reuters reports:
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said during a hearing that she viewed Epic’s request through “two lenses.” One was with the harm that would come to Epic’s own games, which have been taken out of the App Store. The other was what harm would come to the hundreds of other games that would be hurt if Epic was unable to maintain its Unreal Engine software because Apple terminated all of the company’s Apple developer contracts.
“I can tell you right now that I am inclined not to grant relief with respect to the games, but I am inclined to grant relief with respect to the Unreal Engine,” Gonzalez Rogers said.Reuters
Judge Rogers also sided with Epic Games on the claims that the App Store has no competition. She called in to question why Apple charges a 30% commission and how it benefits users. In response, Apple said that the competition rests in which ecosystem customers buy (iOS or Android).
“There is no competition. The question is, without competition, where does the 30% (App Store commission) come from? Why isn’t it 10? 20? How is the consumer benefiting from, you (Apple) get to say what you want it to be?” she asked.
Doren replied that consumers had choices when deciding to buy an Android device or an iPhone. “The competition is in the foremarket,” he said, reiterating an argument that has been central to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook’s defense during Congressional anti-trust hearings.Reuters
UPDATE- 9:15 AM PT on August 23rd
Microsoft in brand new court filings today joined the “Epic Games team” accusing Apple of being a threat to its gaming business if it cut off Epic Game’s access to developer tools, as The Verge reports:
The filing came alongside a new declaration from Microsoft in support of Epic’s motion, emphasizing how disastrous it would be to revoke Epic’s access to Apple’s developer tools. Any developer using the engine would be unable to patch security flaws or fix bugs once the access was revoked, effectively halting support for a wide range of games including Microsoft’s Forza.
“Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS,” said Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager for third-party developers on the Xbox, “and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage.”The Verge
In the same court filings, Epic Games claims that Apple is holding the entire Unreal Engine hostage because of its threat to revoke developer access.
Epic says removing support would be unnecessarily punitive, affecting developers who have built on Epic’s engine but have no direct interest in the case. “The breadth of Apple’s retaliation is itself an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly and chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple,” the motion reads.The Verge
UPDATE- 9 AM PT on August 23rd
UPDATE- 1 PM PT on August 21st
Axios reports that in new court filings on Friday, Apple revealed that Epic Games had contacted the company seeking special treatment to bypass App Store payment policy, per the report:
According to Apple, Epic emailed the company on June 30 seeking to allow its own Epic Games Store app as a way for iOS users to install the company’s games directly, bypassing Apple’s payment system.
What they’re saying: “Over the last several months, Epic has demanded that Apple make various changes to Epic’s rights and obligations under its contracts that would be destructive to Apple’s basic business model.,” Apple fellow Phil Schiller said in a declaration accompanying Friday’s filing.
“When Apple refused to fundamentally alter the way it does business to appease Epic, Epic resorted to sudden, unilateral action that blatantly breached its contracts with Apple, and simultaneously filed this lawsuit, which seeks to justify its deliberate breaches after the fact.”Axios
UPDATE- 1 PM PT on August 19th
Epic Games lawsuit against Apple has been given an new judge, as FOSS Patent reports:
Approximately 18 hours ago, a clerk’s notice already mentioned the possibility of Epic Games’ antitrust action against Apple over its App Store terms and policies being reassigned to Oakland-based United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. The following related case order just came down, and this means Epic Games v. Apple travels over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (this post continues below the document):
Judge Gonzalez Rogers who is now overseeing two lawsuits against Apple from Epic Games will require Epic Games to resubmit its restraining order that would prevent Apple from terminating its developer account and access to dev. tools.
Apple has taken the drastic step of removing Fortnite from the App Store following the app’s decision to include a direct payment method. Apple says in a statement to The Verge that it hopes the app will return to the App Store soon:
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 it’s 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.Apple statement to The Verge
Following the removal, Epic Games, the makers behind Fortnite have released a parody of Apple’s “1984” commercial by calling on all Fortnite players to “join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming 1984.” Watch it below.