Fortnite creator Epic Games has argued that Apple’s plan to terminate its Developer Program membership would be “overbroad retaliation” and “an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly and chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple.”
Earlier this month, Epic Games strategically violated Apple’s rules regarding in-app purchases by introducing its own direct payment option for in-game currency in its hit game Fortnite on iOS. Apple promptly removed Fortnite from the App Store and subsequently informed Epic Games that its Developer Program membership would be terminated within two weeks unless it resubmits Fortnite without the direct payment option.
By having its Developer Program membership terminated, Epic Games would not only lose its ability to develop Fortnite for iOS, but also its popular game engine Unreal Engine for iOS and macOS, which thousands of developers rely on for their games.
In a court filing [PDF] today, 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,” including Microsoft.
In a declaration in support of Epic Games [PDF], Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill wrote that “Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.” Specifically, 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 has argued that Epic Games committed “self-inflicted wounds” by intentionally violating its rules, noting that it could have proceeded with its lawsuit without introducing a direct payment option in the Fortnite app. Apple has also said that it would be happy to have Fortnite back on the App Store if Epic Games addresses the violations.
A hearing related to Epic Games’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would force Apple to put Fortnite back on the App Store during the legal proceedings, is set for tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time in California court.