Apple escalated its battle against “Fortnite” creator Epic Games this afternoon by blocking the company’s mobile developer account.
This decision means Epic is essentially locked out of parts of Apple’s mobile game design interface to maintain certain mobile versions of “Fortnite.” It also blocks Epic from collecting any revenue from the in-app mobile payment system users use to buy V-Bucks, an in-game currency for “Fortnite.”
While this appears to defy a recent order from Judge Yvette Gonzalez Rogers, who said Apple could continue to block “Fortnite” from the App Store but not the developer tools, Apple argues its move does comply with the order; Apple said it blocked one Epic developer account that didn’t contain access to Epic’s game development tool, the Unreal Engine.
Epic said in a statement provided to TheWrap, “Apple is asking that Epic revert ‘Fortnite’ to exclusively use Apple payments. Their proposal is an invitation for Epic to collude with Apple to maintain their monopoly over in-app payments on iOS, suppressing free market competition and inflating prices. As a matter of principle, we won’t participate in this scheme.”
“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,” Apple said in a statement provided to TheWrap. “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.”
Apple said it gave Epic two weeks to comply with the App Store review guidelines that it violated in the first place when it started offering in-game currency sales directly through its marketplace instead of giving Apple its standard 30% transaction cut. Apple also said that the process for terminating this one developer account owned by Epic is a normal process and that it would be an exception to the norm to leave the account active since Epic didn’t change its policies.
Epic’s Unreal Engine is used by several other mobile developers, including Microsoft, which recently voiced its support for Epic in the ongoing legal battle against Apple.