Game enthusiasts and industry personnel visit the 'Fortnite' exhibit during the Electronic Entertainment Expo
Game enthusiasts and industry personnel visit the 'Fortnite' exhibit during the Electronic Entertainment Expo

Fortnite makers Epic Games will be entirely kicked off Apple's developer tools unless it reverses controversial update

Effect of decision could be catastrophic, developers claim

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 18 August 2020 09:01
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Fortnite developers Epic Games will be kicked from Apple's tools entirely unless they reverse a controversial update.

The change could not only affect the future of Fortnite on the iPhone and Mac but also the Unreal Engine that is created by the developers, and which powers a whole host of other games.

Epic and Apple have been engaged in a public battle ever since a new Fortnite update added the option to circumvent Apple's in-app purchase feature. That put it in contravention of the App Store rules, and led to it being kicked off the App Store.

The problems between the two companies revolve around a 30 per cent cut that Apple takes of purchases made within apps that were downloaded from its store. Epic added an option to Fortnite to buy its in-game currency, known as VBucks, from the developer directly, circumventing that 30 per cent levy but putting it on conflict with Apple.

The same dispute has been happening with Google. Epic added the same option on the Google Play Store, which also then kicked Fortnite off, and has led to a lawsuit of its own.

Now Epic has been told that if it does not update Fortnite so that it removes the feature it will lose access to Apple's developer tools, which includes the software that allows developers to make apps for the Mac and iOS.

Such a change would not only affect Fortnite but all of the other apps distributed by Epic, including its own app store and the Unreal Engine that powers many of the world's most popular games. Those could potentially stop working on the Mac, even though there are fewer restrictions on how apps are able to be downloaded or behave on that platform.

Epic Games has applied for an injunction to stop the ban, claiming that the disruption would be catastrophic. “The cascading effect of losing ongoing Unreal Engine compatibility will threaten the viability of the engine and disrupt development of a constellation of apps and uses that rely on its graphics to render hundreds of video games, the human brain, Baby Yoda and space flight,” it wrote in the filing.

Apple said in a statement that it "very much wants to keep the company" on the App Store, and referred to the ongoing issues as a "problem Epic has created for itself".

"The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users and a great business opportunity for all developers. Epic has been one of the most successful developers on the App Store, growing into a multibillion dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world. We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store.

"The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers. We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers."

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