Image: Epic Games

It appears that Epic Games is gaining some powerful allies in its crusade against big, bad Apple. Following a retaliatory effort that jeopardized the future of Unreal Engine on iOS and Mac, Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill today filed court documents pledging his support for Epic, which had inadvertently dug graves for the numerous developers out there who have invested in Apple’s ecosystem.

Gammill argues that Apple’s Unreal Engine ban is a “harmful” response that would not only hurt Epic, but Microsoft and the countless other companies that rely on the ultra-popular game engine. You can check out the full 12-page document here, but these are a few of his key concerns:

  • Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS, and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage.
  • If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS or macOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine when preparing to develop new games.
  • For game creators in the later stages of development utilizing Unreal Engine and targeting the iOS and/or macOS platform, Unreal Engine’s sudden loss of support for iOS and macOS would create significant costs and difficult decisions. The creator would have significant sunk costs and lost time using Unreal Engine for game creation, and would have to choose between (a) starting development all over with a new game engine, (b) abandoning the iOS and macOS platforms, or (c) ceasing development entirely.

Epic Games filed documents of its own regarding this little predicament today, claiming that many developers have sounded similar alarms. “Specifically, over the past week, multiple Unreal Engine licensees have contacted Epic expressing grave concern over Apple’s actions and its impact on their iOS and macOS-bound projects,” a passage reads.

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14 Comments

  1. This is starting to look interesting. Don’t forget that Microsoft owns a steak in Apple Computer as well. Back oh about what was it 20 years ago maybe a bit longer MS invested just over 100 million into Apple when they were having trouble with their power PC based systems well before they switched to x86 CPU’s.
  2. Not too surprised, I’m not sure if MS ever got Apple to approve XBox Game Pass on iOS (a version that allows game streaming).

    So, a Epic win here would probably pave a way for MS to implement XBox Game Pass on iOS.

  3. Not too surprised, I’m not sure if MS ever got Apple to approve XBox Game Pass on iOS (a version that allows game streaming).

    So, a Epic win here would probably pave a way for MS to implement XBox Game Pass on iOS.

    That’s not what Microsoft is arguing, here. Microsoft is against removing access to the Unreal Engine through the Apple SDK, which is the consequence of removing Epic’s developer account. Reinstating Epic’s developer account would not pave the way for xCloud on Apple iOS devices, as Microsoft still has developer privileges while Epic does not.

  4. I think this is just good old fashioned opportunism. MS sees an opportunity to kick a frenemy.
    The relationship between Apple and MS has always been a very interesting study.
  5. This is starting to look interesting. Don’t forget that Microsoft owns a steak in Apple Computer as well. Back oh about what was it 20 years ago maybe a bit longer MS invested just over 100 million into Apple when they were having trouble with their power PC based systems well before they switched to x86 CPU’s.

    They did, but that investment was to serve two purposes. 1.) It kept Apple alive during one of its darkest financial periods. This was to keep the possibility of an anti-trust hearing at bay. Apple was effectively Microsoft’s only competitor back then. 2.) It was to keep the platform alive in order to keep its Apple Office division alive.

    I don’t think Microsoft gives a **** about that 100 million dollars today. It was almost 20 years ago and that money did its job.

  6. Apple made a very bad move IMO.

    Pulling the app is one thing. It happens to lots of people, and there is a contract to argue in court.

    Pulling their developer account is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m guessing there is some self styled corporate bad *** inside the reality distortion field there that thinks the outside world works like apple does internally.

    When you CANT avoid screwing over every developer using a particular platform because you want to argue with the developer of a platform, you might be engaging in anti-competitive practices. Apple’s friendliness with unity at it’s release may very well come back to bite them in the *** here.

  7. If only MS still had a phone division on which to support such actions. Maybe they can buy back Nokia for another 100 billion dollars and drive it’s corpse into the ground…. AGAIN.

    Sorry, I got a little triggered for a sec there. I’ll be fine.

  8. Pulling the app is one thing. It happens to lots of people, and there is a contract to argue in court.

    Pulling their developer account is a whole different kettle of fish.

    Looks like the courts agree, for the moment:

  9. I agree with the initial ruling. Removing Fortnite was sensible, as Epic were breaking the terms of use. Removing their dev account seemed personal.
  10. Apple made a very bad move IMO.

    Pulling the app is one thing. It happens to lots of people, and there is a contract to argue in court.

    Pulling their developer account is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m guessing there is some self styled corporate bad *** inside the reality distortion field there that thinks the outside world works like apple does internally.

    When you CANT avoid screwing over every developer using a particular platform because you want to argue with the developer of a platform, you might be engaging in anti-competitive practices. Apple’s friendliness with unity at it’s release may very well come back to bite them in the *** here.

    I don’t know.

    Suspending a developers account over terms violations does not seem so farfetched to me…

  11. I don’t know.

    Suspending a developers account over terms violations does not seem so farfetched to me…

    I agree it isn’t far fetched but it is excessively punitive. And the court ordering a business to work with another business in the US should be against the law unless it was for discriminatory reasons that the business was denied.

    I really thought it is the right of a business to say no to a customer period as long as it isn’t for racial bias.

  12. Suspending a developers account over terms violations does not seem so farfetched to me…

    Guess it all depends on how the contract is worded. I’m positive the developer account contract is independent from the App Store listing contract, but that doesn’t mean there may not be some either overlap or interconnecting mechanisms. At one point I was a registered developer, but I’ve never published anything on the App Store, and I’m sure the developer contract has changed drastically in the many years since I dabbled with it.

    I would be surprised if there isn’t some clause in the various contracts that would allow Apple to do so, but I think in this case with Epic it was pretty clearly a strictly retaliatory measure, even if there is contractual language that acts as some measure of justification. Apple knew the measure of publicity this case is getting and walked into that action with their eyes wide open, I am certain.

    Plenty of developers have had their Apps pulled for various reasons without having their developer accounts suspended. I do agree there are circumstances where pulling the developer account would be appropriate. I just don’t know of any that have occured off hand, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened and just wasn’t publicized.

    If the contract language does indeed play out, then a higher court will rule that Apple is legally allowed to do so and will let the developer account ban stand. There is also the fact that just because they have a developer account, doesn’t mean that anything they submit for App Store publishing would get validated and published. So this isn’t exactly a huge victory for Epic, just a public bruising for Apple PR.

  13. Guess it all depends on how the contract is worded. I’m positive the developer account contract is independent from the App Store listing contract, but that doesn’t mean there may not be some either overlap or interconnecting mechanisms. At one point I was a registered developer, but I’ve never published anything on the App Store, and I’m sure the developer contract has changed drastically in the many years since I dabbled with it.

    I would be surprised if there isn’t some clause in the various contracts that would allow Apple to do so, but I think in this case with Epic it was pretty clearly a strictly retaliatory measure, even if there is contractual language that acts as some measure of justification. Apple knew the measure of publicity this case is getting and walked into that action with their eyes wide open, I am certain.

    Plenty of developers have had their Apps pulled for various reasons without having their developer accounts suspended. I do agree there are circumstances where pulling the developer account would be appropriate. I just don’t know of any that have occured off hand, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened and just wasn’t publicized.

    If the contract language does indeed play out, then a higher court will rule that Apple is legally allowed to do so and will let the developer account ban stand. There is also the fact that just because they have a developer account, doesn’t mean that anything they submit for App Store publishing would get validated and published. So this isn’t exactly a huge victory for Epic, just a public bruising for Apple PR.

    Yeah, I feel more for any small developer who might be getting squeezed here because they are using Epic’s engine.

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