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Apple threatens to terminate Epic's developer account

The tussle between Apple and Epic over Fortnite and App Store revenues is getting ugly. (Image: Epic Games)
The tussle between Apple and Epic over Fortnite and App Store revenues is getting ugly. (Image: Epic Games)
The gloves are well and truly off in the fight between Apple and Epic Games. Following Epic’s decision to initiate a lawsuit against Apple over its App Store policies, Apple has responded advising Epic that its developer account will be terminated on August 28.

Epic Games threw down the gauntlet at Apple last week when it launched a lawsuit against the Cupertino giant following Apple’s decision to axe Fortnite from the App Store for violating its store policies. According to Epic, Apple’s 30 percent cut of both app sales and in-app revenue is disproportionate and anti-competitive as apps can’t be sideloaded on iOS devices and stops customers from transacting directly with a developer. Apple has taken up the gauntlet and has now issued Epic with a notice that it will terminate its developer account on August 28 -- this could also put in danger Epic’s Unreal Engine development which is used by licensed by other app developers.

Naturally, Epic hasn’t taken too kindly to Apple’s manoeuvre and sought injunctive relief from the courts. According to Epic’s lawsuit, “...Apple is attacking Epic’s entire business in unrelated areas, [and]...will irreparably damage Epic’s reputation among Fortnite users and be catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business.” In a statement provided to The Verge, Apple claims Epic simply needs to make the make the necessary changes to Fortnite for iOS so that it is reinstated -- “We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers.”

With Fortnite already pulled from the App Store, terminating Epic’s developer account seems somewhat heavy handed on Apple’s part, and isn’t likely to win it any favors in the court of public opinion. It seems Apple is intent on forcing Epic into what may come across as an embarrassing back down by pressuring it into making the changes to its app sooner rather than later. In doing so, Apple will kill two birds with one stone as it is not only Epic that is losing money with Fortnite out of the App Store. If Epic wins its injunction, it will be interesting to see whether Fortnite makes it back on the App Store regardless or whether Epic truly is in this for the long haul.


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2020-08-18 (Update: 2020-08-18)