Apple Terminates Epic Games’ Developer Account

The last approved version of Fortnite still runs, but along with other games from Epic, it’s no longer available from the App Store, even if you previously downloaded it. This means you won’t be able to restore Fortnite on a new or factory-reset iPhone.

Statement from Apple:

We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.

Tim Sweeney:

Apple’s statement isn’t forthright. They chose to terminate Epic’s account; they didn’t *have* to.

Apple suggests we spammed the App Store review process. That’s not so. Epic submitted three Fortnite builds: two bug-fix updates, and the Season 4 update with this note.

Neither company “had to” do any of this, so that’s a futile line of argument. Epic didn’t have to sneak their rule-breaking payment processing in via a trojan horse in the last-approved Fortnite version, and didn’t have to refuse to take their rule-breaking payment processing out in the subsequent builds they submitted. Apple didn’t have to respond, but it would have been pretty weird — to say the least — if they just let Epic get away with this. One can certainly argue that Apple’s rules are wrong, but it’s not wrong for Apple to enforce its own rules. Nothing Apple has done in this saga has been surprising, with the possible exception of attempting to revoke the developer license for Epic’s subsidiary that makes Unreal Engine.

The “instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines” line in Apple’s statement is interesting, though. I don’t read it as an accusation of “spamming”, as Sweeney claims. Epic submitted three builds, none of which removed their in-app purchase circumvention, so they knew Apple was never going to approve them. They were just wasting Apple’s time. But I find it interesting that Apple even mentioned it, or phrased it that way. It indicates that Epic has gotten under their skin to some degree. Of course Apple is annoyed by Epic’s antics; but you’d think Apple wouldn’t let that show. Apple shouldn’t think about Epic at all.

Friday, 28 August 2020