Epic Games is asking a judge to prevent Apple from retaliating against it as it resists the iPhone maker’s policy of taking a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases.
The maker of “Fortnite” — the mega-popular game which was banned from the App Store last week after it introduced a new payment system that circumvents Apple’s fees — on Monday asked for a restraining order to keep Apple from terminating its developer accounts and cutting it off from its development tools on Aug. 28.
Apple’s threatened move would have a massive ripple effect across the mobile game industry, as Epic also makes the Unreal Engine, a tool that other game developers use to power their three-dimensional graphics. The tool is also used by millions of other developers, including medical imaging companies and car designers, Epic said.
“The ensuing impact on the Unreal Engine’s viability, and the trust and confidence developers have in that engine, cannot be repaired with a monetary award,” Epic said in its filing in California federal court.
Epic CEO Timothy Sweeney said “Fortnite” had 350 million registered users as of June 2020, but that Apple’s move will stop them from getting the updates needed to play the game’s most popular mode — a “Battle Royale” match of up to 100 players where the last survivor wins.
“Apple’s actions will ‘break’ Fortnite for millions of existing players,” Sweeney wrote, saying Epic updates the game every few weeks. “Because iOS users can no longer update the game, they will be unable to play Fortnite with most other players, who will have the then-current version available on other platforms” such as PCs.
Apple, for its part, has argued that “Fortnite”‘s problem is entirely of its own creation.
“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,” Apple said in a statement. “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.”
Epic has rolled out a social media campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite, urging players to seek refunds from Apple if they lose access to the game, and creating a parody of Apple’s famous “1984” television ad.
“Fortnite” last week sued Apple and Google after the tech giants booted it from their app stores, accusing them of monopolistic practices and arguing that they should lower the fees they charge app developers that rely on their marketplace.