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Microsoft Backing Epic Games, Says Apple Blocking Access to Unreal Engine Would Harm Game Creators

Microsoft Backing Epic Games, Says Apple Blocking Access to Unreal Engine Would Harm Game Creators

Fortnite creator Epic Games says Apple’s planned termination of its Developer Program membership will be “an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly and chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple.”

Apple earlier this monthy removed Fortnite from the App Store, just hours after Epic Games debuted a new direct payment option to get around Apple’s in-app purchases rules that give the Cupertino firm a 30% cut of the action. Epic Games immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple for pulling Fortnite from the ‌App Store‌.

Apple then told Epic Games it will terminate the company’s complete access to its App Store and app development tools. Epic Games said that Apple told it that on August 28, all access will be terminated.

The termination will also end Epic’s access to the development tools it uses to create software for the Unreal Engine it offers to third-party developers for use in their games. That move could have a significant impact on all of the Mac and iOS apps and games that use Epic’s Unreal Engine.

In a court filing on Sunday [PDF], Epic Games said that multiple Unreal Engine licensees have contacted the company “expressing grave concern over Apple’s actions and its impact on their iOS and macOS-bound projects,” that group includes Microsoft.

In a statement supporting Epic Games [PDF], Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill wrote “Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.” Gammill said that games utilizing Unreal Engine will be put at a “substantial disadvantage,” citing Microsoft’s own racing game Forza Street for iPhone and iPad as an example.

Apple lawyers argue that the emergency stay Epic is seeking is the remedy to an emergency “entirely of Epic’s own making.” Apple says if Epic removes the direct payment mechanism, Fortnite would be allowed back into the App Store and Fortnite’s developer accounts would remain intact.

A California court hearing is scheduled for today at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time that will determine whether Apple can remove Fortnite from the ‌App Store‌ for violating the ‌App Store‌ rules.

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