Apple have built a brick wall in the sand in their sudden spat with Epic Games over payment methods for in-app purchases in Fortnite, issuing the ultimatum that, unless Epic back down and remove the direct payment method that infringes on iOS App Store policies, they will cut Epic off entirely from Apple’s platforms. Not just Fortnite, but all of Epic’s access will be cut off.
Epic have filed for an injunction to prevent Apple from doing this while the lawsuit filed last week is deliberated over in the courts.
Epic’s lawyers state that, following a public statement that Apple would “make every effort to work with Epic . . . so they can return Fortnite to the App Store”, they decided to crack down on Epic.
Apple then posted another notice at 12:04 a.m. Pacific Time on August 14. In the second notice, Apple said it found Fortnite “in direct violation of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement”, and stated it will terminate Epic’s membership in its Developer Program “within 14 days” if Epic did not remove Fortnite’s alternative in-app payment system and comply with other demands. Apple stated that if it terminates Epic, then Epic “may no longer submit apps to the App Store” and its “apps still available for distribution will be removed.” Apple also stated it will cut off Epic’s access to a list of tools, including “[a]ll Apple software, SDKs [software development kits], APIs [application programming interfaces], and developer tools”, as well as “pre-release versions” of iOS, macOS and other Apple OSs. Finally, Apple stated that unless Epic capitulates, Apple will also block “[e]ngineering efforts to improve hardware and software performance of Unreal Engine on Mac and iOS hardware [and] optimize Unreal Engine for the Mac for creative workflows”.
Simply this would have a huge impact for Epic on Apple’s platforms going forward, meaning that they are unable to continue developing Unreal Engine on iOS and MacOS, and would thus be unable to natively support the upcoming versions of either OS later this year, much less the planned jump for Macs from Intel to Apple Silicon CPUs due to start in 2021.
However, this won’t have a major impact on the here and now outside of Fortnite. It won’t suddenly see reams of third party games be delisted, though it will make updating them potentially more difficult for developers.
Of course, with the incessant updates that Epic throw at Fortnite, the game will become detached from the rest of the game’s player base very quickly, with Epic having handled this law suit like a publicity stunt, timing their actions to have immediate and direct consequences for maximum impact.
All of this has come about because Epic decided to introduce a new way to pay for in-game currency that bypassed Apple’s systems, dodging Apple’s 30% fee on transactions processed via Apple. In reaction to this, Fortnite was pulled from the App Store, with Epic then immediately filing suit. A similar chain of events also played out on the Google Play Store on Android.
Apple have come in for strong criticism over the last few months, with a war of words with Microsoft over the exclusion of their xCloud streaming app. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will only be able to access game streaming via Android smartphones when the service launches in September.