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August 28th: Apple has revoked Epic Games’ access to its developer tools and terminated its developer account, after promising to do so earlier this month.
It means that Epic can no longer develop or issue updates to the Fortnite app, or remove the direct payment option to get the game back in the App Store. Epic still has access to Unreal Engine as it uses a separate account to manage that.
August 24th: The first hearing between Epic Games and Apple has taken place, ending with Judge Gonzalez Rogers claiming she is “inclined” to side with Epic Games on issues with Unreal Engine.
“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”
Apple will be forced to provide access to its developer tools for Epic Games to allow them to continue developing Unreal Engine, the hearing concluded. However, Rogers says Apple won’t be required to bring Fortnite back to the App Store.
In the coming weeks, both parties will file their respective arguments before a full hearing takes place on September 28th. When asked when they’d be prepared to go to trial, Apple said it could take ten months, with Epic stating three to four.
August 23rd: Microsoft today joined Epic Games in accusing Apple of being a large threat to the gaming business if it succeeded in cutting off Epic’s access to developer tools.
“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.”
UPDATE 3: In a letter to Epic Games, Apple says it has suspended their developer account and will give them two weeks to ‘correct issues’ with the recent Fortnite patch.
Otherwise, Apple will terminate Epic’s access to the Apple Developer Program and prevent them from using tools to develop software for iOS and macOS. Unreal Engine will also be affected by this change.
UPDATE 2: Epic is now suing Google alongside Apple after Google removed the Fortnite application from its Play Store yesterday. The company also claims that Google has blocked them from pre-installing its own store on OnePlus and LG devices.
UPDATE 1: Epic Games is taking Apple to court in a new lawsuit after Apple announced its decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store. They want “to end Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces”.
Apple has removed the popular multiplayer battle royale game Fortnite from the App Store after its developers implemented its own payment system that broke Apple’s guidelines and bypassed the required 30 per cent fee.
The new ‘direct payment’ system was only implemented hours earlier and allowed users to purchase in-game currencies at a cheaper price than the one Apple offers. The change was made server-side, so easily managed to bypass the App Review.
Apple, in a statement to The Verge, said that Epic “unfortunate step of violating App Store guidelines” and has no intention to create a “special arrangement that their [Epic’s] business interests lead them to do”.
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 its 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.
The move from Epic Games is an attempt to push Apple to change its Apple Store guidelines and 30 per cent fee from developers. Recent criticism against Apple is now building up and the attempt is one that will also impact customers of the Fortnite game.
Epic Games has not yet made an official statement in response to the removal of Fortnite from the App Store.