Microsoft, Spotify Side With Epic Games in Developer’s Fight Against Apple

Executive says several Microsoft games use Epic Games’ development tools

Microsoft has chosen sides in the ongoing legal battle between Apple and “Fortnite” game developer Epic Games, filing a court statement Aug. 23 in support of Epic.

The Xbox owner filed paperwork backing Epic after Apple said it would remove Epic’s access to Apple’s developer tools by Aug. 28 — which means that developers using Epic’s proprietary game development software, the Unreal Engine, would be unable to work on Apple platforms.

Microsoft manager of game development experience Kevin Gammill said in a Sunday statement that several Microsoft games use the Unreal Engine to operate on iOS. Epic has been licensing the Unreal Engine to third-party game developers since 2009.

“Microsoft has an enterprise-wide, multi-year Unreal Engine license agreement and has invested significant resources and engineer time working with and customizing Unreal Engine for its own games on PC, Xbox consoles, and mobile devices (including iOS devices),” Gammill said in the statement, noting that ‘Forza Street’ is one title that uses the Unreal Engine on mobile.

“For example, Microsoft’s racing game ‘Forza Street’ is currently available on iOS and utilizes Unreal Engine. 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,” Gammill added.

“Even uncertainty about the Unreal Engine’s ability to continue supporting iOS and macOS will make it less likely for Microsoft (and, I believe, other game creators) to select Unreal Engine for their products,” Gammill said.

The legal battle between Apple and Epic Games kicked off Aug. 13 when Epic sued Apple for removing its most popular multiplayer game, “Fortnite,” off the App Store after “Fortnite” began offering a sale on in-game currency. If players purchased the in-game coins through Epic directly rather than the iOS marketplace, they saved roughly 20% — and Apple didn’t appreciate Epic violating its terms of service, so it booted “Fortnite from the store.

Google shortly followed suit and removed “Fortnite” from its Google Play Store. Epic then filed suit against Apple, claiming its payment policies and business practices were anti-competitive. Epic also filed a similar lawsuit against Google.

Epic faces an uphill battle in taking on Apple, the dominant marketplace in the world for mobile apps. But, Epic is also one of the only companies with enough leverage to get into this battle, and the massive global popularity of “Fortnite” is hard for Apple to ignore.

A representative for music streaming app Spotify said in a statement to TheWrap that it also supports Epic’s decision to sue Apple. Spotify has filed its own antitrust lawsuits against Apple and its music services.

“We applaud Epic Games’ decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple’s abuse of its dominant position. Apple’s unfair practices have disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers for far too long,” Spotify told TheWrap. “The stakes for consumers and app developers large and small couldn’t be higher and ensuring that the iOS platform operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications.”