Apple terminates Fortnite maker Epic Games' developer account - Hindustan Times
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Apple terminates Fortnite maker Epic Games' developer account

Mar 07, 2024 12:45 PM IST

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says it was Apple's vindictive approach over ongoing lawsuits.

On Wednesday, Fortnite maker Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney announced that Apple has rejected their application for a developer account necessary to launch their app store in Europe.

Epic sued Google and Apple in 2020, accusing the tech titans of abusing control of their respective shops selling apps and other digital content for mobile devices powered by iOS or Android software. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP)(AFP)
Epic sued Google and Apple in 2020, accusing the tech titans of abusing control of their respective shops selling apps and other digital content for mobile devices powered by iOS or Android software. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP)(AFP)

Sweeney claims this move is retaliation against Apple, stemming from Epic’s antitrust lobbying efforts, and their ongoing lawsuit against Apple.

He quoted emails from Phil Schiller, the Apple App Store chief Phil Schiller, and Apple’s legal team.

Sweeney expressed his disapproval of Apple’s actions, stating, “The manner in which Apple is going about killing Epic here as a competitor to the App Store is super egregious. This is the medieval feudal lord, mounting the skulls of their former enemies on their castle walls.”

This marks the first known instance of Apple denying a competing app store entry in Europe.

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The friction between Apple and Epic Games dates back to 2020

The lawsuit challenged whether Fortnite could circumvent Apple’s App Store guidelines and avoid the standard 30% commission on game sales. Although Epic lost the case, the lawsuit modified Apple’s policies under California law.

This ongoing dispute underscores the potential regulatory challenges to Apple’s App Store revenue. An Apple spokesperson defended the company’s decision to terminate the account, citing Epic’s continuous legal actions against Apple.

“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 spokesperson quoted.

In response to the Digital Markets Act—a new European law mandating big tech companies to open their platforms to competitors—Apple has begun to comply. This law requires Apple to permit third-party app stores in Europe, challenging the monopoly of the iPhone App Store. Apple has expressed opposition to the law, citing concerns over user security.

Companies like Spotify also argue that Apple’s measures do not align with the spirit of the EU law, pointing out the addition of a 50-euro-cent fee for downloads as an example.

Sweeney revealed that Epic had plans to launch a new app store in Europe. The studio applied for a developer account in Sweden but faced rejection from Apple.

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Despite public actions and rhetoric, Schiller dropped an email to Sweeney requesting written assurance of Epic’s good faith and commitment to their agreements.

Sweeney criticized Apple’s vague demands, saying, “This is an open-ended invitation for Apple to tell us exactly what they want us to commit to, and how they want us to commit to it in order to not lock us as a competitor.”

He also suggested that Apple’s expectations included a written declaration of loyalty and a cessation of public discourse, stating, “Based on my interactions with Apple, they want two things. They want some sort of essay expressing fealty to Apple, a creative writing project, and they want us to shut up.”

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