Apple says that it would “very much like” to keep Epic in the Apple Developer Program, but that it will not make an exception for the studio instead of its customer protection policy.
The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users and a great business opportunity for all developers. Epic is one of the most successful developers on the App Store and has grown into a multi-billion dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world. We want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and keep their apps on the store. The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can be easily resolved by submitting an update to their app to make it compliant with the guidelines they have agreed to and that apply to all developers. We will not make an exception for Epic because we do not believe it is right to put their business interests ahead of the policies that protect our customers.
According to “The Information,” Epic Games will also include a number of other companies in what the publication calls a “coalition of Apple critics. Epic has reportedly approached Spotify and Sonos, but it is not yet clear whether either company has joined the battle of game developers.
Apple has warned Epic not to close developer accounts on August 28th, as access to the iOS and Mac developer tools will then also be lost. In response, Epic filed a motion in federal court in California for an injunction to prevent Apple from closing the accounts, disabling Fortnite on users’ devices and removing Fortnite from the App Store.
Without the injunction, Epic is likely to face “irreparable harm,” the company’s lawyers told the court. It also claimed that it was “likely to succeed” in its antitrust lawsuit against Google and that it was in the “public interest”. Millions of players would be cut off, Epic said, while this allegedly would not harm Apple as long as the trial went on.
Epic has also sued Google for removing Fortnite from the Play Store, but has not yet claimed similar retaliation. Unlike Apple devices, Epic can make Fortnite available to Android users outside the platform’s official store.
It is not certain that Epic will receive the order. The company knowingly violated App Store policies by offering a direct payment method for in-game purchases of Fortnite instead of relying solely on Apple’s system, and had both a lawsuit and a marketing campaign in place when Fortnite was inevitably removed from the store. Apple may argue that it has the power to take action against developers who violate its rules, especially if the violations are intentional.
Regardless of whether Epic succeeds in obtaining an injunction or not, this latest legal step could draw further attention to Apple’s actions. Politicians in the U.S. and elsewhere are concerned that Apple may abuse its control over the distribution of iOS apps to increase its revenues and thwart competitors, and these officials may take a closer look at whether there are retaliatory actions – whether they are deserved or not.