In a new legal filing on August 23, Epic Games said that Apple’s retaliation against the company after it offered an alternate payment mechanism in its popular app is “intended” to cause harm to Epic and its licensees. “It is abundantly clear that Apple’s retaliatory steps are intended to harm Epic and its licensees, and harm them they will. Even if Apple, following a final judgment on the merits in this action, were required to make these tools available to Epic once again, it will be too late to save all the projects that were shelved while that support was unavailable,” Epic said in the filing. It also said that Apple’s actions threaten to jeopardise an entire ecosystem. The Verge first reported on this.
Epic Games, is currently locked in a legal battle with Apple and Google. After Apple had removed Epic’s popular app Fortnite, Epic had filed a lawsuit against the company, calling its behaviour monopolistic. In retaliation, Apple threatened Epic with termination of all of its developer accounts — which includes Unreal Engine — and to cut Epic from iOS and Mac development tools by August 28.
Apple had then submitted its legal response on Epic Games suit on August 21, claiming that Epic had asked for a “special deal” which would “fundamentally change the way in which Epic offers apps on Apple’s iOS platform.” Apple also submitted that Epic had created a false “emergency” by accepting direct payments, which are in violation of App Store guidelines.
‘The breadth of Apple’s retaliation is unlawful’: Epic
Epic submitted that “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”. It argued that the status quo be reserved so that Epic can continue to have the same access to software, software development kits, and APIs. which are necessary for developing apps for Apple’s operating systems.
Epic also said that cutting Unreal Engine’s access to Apple’s development tools will be unfair for Epic affiliates who use the Unreal Engine to build apps for Apple devices. Microsoft, one such affiliate, has publicly backed Epic in its lawsuit against Apple, saying that it has an “enterprise-wide, multi-year Unreal Engine license agreement and has invested significant resources and engineer time working with and customizing Unreal Engine for its own games on PC, Xbox consoles, and mobile devices (including iOS devices).” Epic also argued that Apple can not be overarching in its reaction, as developers who use Unreal Engine to develops apps for Apple devices have signed separate agreements with the company, and none of them have violated any guidelines. It also said that Epic’s own developer accounts for Fortnite and Unreal Engine are different, and have signed separate agreements.
Unreal Engine is also not a consumer facing tool, Epic said. “Indeed, the Unreal Engine is far removed from the payment processing issue of which Apple complains; it is not a consumer-facing product and is not distributed through the App Store (though a few optional tools are distributed through the App Store for use by third-party developers). Instead, the Unreal Engine is a tool licensed for use by other software developers and is downloaded directly from its own website,” it said. “Specifically, over the past week, multiple Unreal Engine licensees have contacted Epic expressing grave concern over Apple’s actions and its impact on their iOS and macOS-bound projects,” Epic added.
Apple vs developers
Epic is just one example of a developer seemingly unhappy with the 30% commission Apple charges on most in-app purchases while simultaneously prohibiting developers from even linking users out of the app to a separate web page to purchase in-app items or subscriptions. Just last week, Digital Content Next — an association that includes New York Times and Washington Post — asked Apple how member news publishers can “qualify for the arrangement Amazon is receiving for its Amazon Prime Video app in the Apple App Store”, after it was revealed in the US Congressional antitrust hearings that Apple was allowing Amazon to keep 85% of the revenue from subscriptions on Amazon Prime on iOS.
Before that, Microsoft, subscription email service Hey, and Match Group, the parent of dating app Tinder, have all criticised the 30% commission Apple charges over in-app purchases. Complaints by Spotify and Rakuten over these issues also resulted in antitrust scrutiny against Apple in the EU, which is currently underway.
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- Fortnite developer sues Apple and Google after it was removed from both app stores
- In retaliation against Epic Games, Apple is putting future of all Unreal Engine based projects on iOS and Mac in jeopardy