• Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

Apple terminates Epic Games developer account calling it a ‘threat’ to the iOS ecosystem

Apple terminates Epic Games developer account calling it a 'threat' to the iOS ecosystem


The Apple-Epic saga has taken a new turn today as the Fortnite game developer, Epic Games, shared that Apple has terminated its developer account. This is a reversal from the earlier approval of Epic’s account last month, which Epic said would allow it to bring back Fortnite to iOS devices in the EU by way of the region’s new law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA). But Epic now says Apple’s lawyers have sent it a letter saying it’s terminating its Epic Games Sweden AB account — a move Epic calls a “serious violation of the DMA” and an indication that Apple has no intention of “allowing true competition on iOS devices.”

“In terminating Epic’s developer account, Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store. They are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor and they are showing other developers what happens when you try to compete with Apple or are critical of their unfair practices,” writes Epic on its company blog, where it has also published copies of its correspondence with Apple.

The game developer alleges that one of the reasons Apple provided to support its decision was Epic’s criticism of Apple’s proposed DMA rules, including this post on X (formerly Twitter) by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Of course, Epic has been a thorn in Apple’s side, having taken it to court over antitrust concerns and lobbying for regulations in multiple markets to crack down on Apple’s power and influence over the app economy. As a result, Apple would rather be done with Epic, it seems. According to Epic, Apple reportedly told the company that it’s “a threat to their ecosystem.”

However, Epic said that it has publicly shared its intentions and then again assured Apple in writing that it would agree with all the terms of its developer agreements after requesting one of the DMA consultations that Apple is offering its App Store developers. (The request was initially denied). It was after agreeing to abide by its rules that Apple’s lawyers sent a letter terminating its Epic Games Sweden AB account.

Epic claims the tech giant is retaliating against it for speaking out, as a letter penned by Apple exec Phil Schiller indicates.

“In the past, Epic has entered into agreements with Apple and then broken them,” Schiller reminds the game maker in the letter dated February 23, 2024. “You also testified that Epic deliberately violated Apple’s rules, to make a point and for financial gain. More recently, you have described our DMA compliance as ‘hot garbage,’ a ‘horror show,’ and a ‘devious new instance of Malicious Compliance.’ And you have complained about what you called ‘Junk Fees’ and ‘Apple taxes.”

Schiller suggests that Epic’s “colorful criticism” combined with its past actions “strongly suggests that Epic Sweden does not intend to follow the rules.” He adds that another intentional breach could “threaten the integrity of the iOS platform, as well as the security and privacy of users.”

“…in plain, unqualified terms, please tell us why we should trust Epic at this time,” he concludes.

It noted, too, that its company has contractual relationships with Apple going back to 2010 for Epic’s Games, Unreal Engine, and other creator tools and Apple itself has been a public supporter of Epic’s Unreal Engine.

In response to Epic’s news, Apple shared the following statement:

Epic’s egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate ‘any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.’ In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise that right.

The company also told us its right to terminate Epic’s account is based on the September 2021 judgment which resulted from Epic’s litigation against Apple. This judgment stated that “Apple has the contractual right to terminate its DPLA with any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.”

Apple noted, too, that Epic Games Sweden entered into the Apple Developer Progam License Agreement via a click-through agreement, which had not involved any executive review by Apple at that time.

Updated, 3/6/24, 12:44 p.m. ET with Apple’s statement



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