Apple Statement: ‘We Very Much Want to Keep the Company as Part of the Apple Developer Program and Their Apps on the Store’

Statement from Apple:

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.

It’s a good statement. Epic has been clear that they aren’t seeking a permanent exception to the App Store Guidelines, or a special deal like Amazon’s for Prime Video (which Apple wasn’t going to offer them anyway — games are different). They want to see Apple (and Google) change their platforms. So the “exception” Apple speaks of, I think, would be allowing Fortnite to remain in the App Store with its own payment processing while the lawsuit is litigated — and perhaps allowing Epic to keep its developer program membership?

So who blinks first? I think Epic will blink, submit a Fortnite update that reverts to compliance with the App Store guidelines, and try to save face by saying, “Look at what Apple forced us to do — we had to raise V-Bucks prices”. But they’ll keep their lawsuit going. The lawsuit, I think they’re serious about. The Fortnite update with their own payment processing was a publicity stunt.

The thing is, Epic isn’t just a game publisher. They’re a platform vendor too. One of the core things developers want from a platform vendor is stability, in every sense of the word. If I were a game developer who depends on Unreal Engine, I’d be irate at Epic. They’re creating drama and eroding trust over a fight that Unreal Engine licensees aren’t a part of and didn’t sign up for. Fortnite users — especially kids — might blame Apple for Fortnite disappearing from iOS. But professional game developers will blame Epic if Unreal Engine updates are hindered by this.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020