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Apple Attempts to Take Its Toys Away and Effectively Ban Fortnite From iOS and macOS

Illustration for article titled Apple Attempts to Take Its Toys Away and Effectively Ban iFortnite/i From iOS and macOS
Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP (Getty Images)

According to an announcement via the Epic Games Newsroom Twitter account, Apple will terminate all of Epic’s developer accounts and cut the company off from iOS and Mac development tools, effective Friday August 28, 2020. In response, Epic has updated its court filing against Apple. Epic is calling this latest move by Apple “retaliation.”

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Epic Games is now requesting a temporary restraining order against Apple to prevent it from “removing, de-listing, refusing to list or otherwise making unavailable the app Fortnite, including any update thereof, from the App Store on the basis that Fortnite offers in-app payment processing through means other than Apple’s In-App Purchase.”

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The update also seeks to prevent Apple from “removing, disabling or modifying Fortnite” from any iOS user’s device, as well as “restraining Apple from taking any adverse action against Epic, including but not limited to restricting, suspending, or terminating any Epic entity from Apple’s Developer Program.”

Epic also said that Apple is removing its access to all software development tools, including the Unreal Engine software Epic offers to third-party developers. Epic claims that its Unreal Engine app never violated any Apple policy, and that Apple never told Epic if it did. “Apple is attacking Epic’s entire business in unrelated areas,” said the company in its latest lawsuit filing against Apple.

Under normal circumstances, when an app is out of compliance with the App Store guidelines, it is removed and only reinstated when the developers remove or add certain features that Apple deems appropriate. For example, several months ago Shadow, a cloud gaming app that provides users with a full, virtual PC, was removed from the App Store for violating one of its policies. The company did not specify what policy, but was reinstated not too long after it removed the Quick Launch feature from its iOS app. When Gizmodo originally reached out for comment, Shadow did not comment on what App Store guideline its Quick Launch feature violated.

There appears to be no reason for Apple to remove from macOS in addition to iOS, not to mention Unreal Engine, as well as cut the company off from development tools.

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Gizmodo has reached out to Epic Games and Apple for comment, but has only received a comment from Apple so far. An Apple spokesperson pointed to the statement it issued last week:

“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.”

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We will update this article should Apple respond with an updated comment and/or should Epic issue a response.

Last week, both Apple and Google removed Fornite from its respective app stores for violating policies related to in-app purchases. Both Apple and Google require all in-app purchases to be made through its own payment system, not directly to the developer, allowing both companies to collect a 30% commission on all purchases. Epic had apparently calculated this move because right after Apple removed Fortnite from its store, the company announced it was filing a lawsuit against Apple—and already had the court filing, plus a flashy video ready to go.

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Epic is now not only challenging Apple’s “exorbitant” 30% commission fee, but it’s also challenging what Epic perspectives as retaliation for filing a lawsuit against Apple in the first place.

Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

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DISCUSSION

What Epic did is the equivalent of a company being allowed to sell merchandise in Disneyland, and then deciding to advertise Universal Studios in its shop in order to spite Disney for overcharging them in rent.