Apple’s retaliatory measures against Epic Games threaten Unreal Engine, not just Fortnite

    
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As we’ve been covering, Epic Games is suing Apple and Google for “unfair and anti-competitive actions” as to their payment markets, over which Apple and Google banned Fortnite when Epic tried to implement its own payment system. Epic sought injunctive relief from the courts, not monetary damages, in an apparent attempt to force movement on a monopoly issue already under the gaze of lawmakers in DC.

Yesterday, Apple decided to swing back, informing Epic that it will be retaliating by essentially deleting Epic’s developer accounts and “cut[ting] Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools.” The problem here isn’t so much for Epic, note, but rather for all of the games that use Epic’s Unreal Engine tools, concern for which has prompted Epic to file another motion in the suit, this one to stop this kind of one-upmanship from Apple that could harm Unreal Engine and not just Fortnite.

Apple’s PR folks are finally awakening from their slumber too. “We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store,” Apple told Venture Beat last night. “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.”

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

could we just get their CEOs to do a PPV where they slowly roast and eat each other for our amusement?

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mike foster

I’ve seen some comments on this that Apple cutting Epic off specifically won’t actually impact Unreal, but I’d love to know from someone who works in Unreal for iOS whether that’s the case…or someone with iOS development insight.

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Rodrigo Dias Costa

Technically, it won’t affect any software made with UE immediately. But, as long as iOS (and Mac OS, since they’re revoking the entire dev license) keeps getting updated, the UE will inevitably start to show some bugs, and essentially they’ll be unable to offer support for any third party developer affected by it on Apple devices.

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

Good.

xpsync
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xpsync

Isn’t it great when money goes to people heads, all of sudden they have no real useful purpose in life anymore, and nothing better to do than engage in kindergarten playground games.

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Robert Mann

Yep. Too bad that’s how everything is run and has been run around the world for thousands of years. We all live under pre-teens having a pissing match.

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Bruno Brito

Viva la revolucion

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Round two, Fight!

ROUND 2 FIGHT!.jpg
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rosieposie

Just as we were wondering who of them were the biggest douche in all of this, here come Apple with the clincher.

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Java Jawa

Imagine a world if we had a universal app marketplace for both IOS and Android devices that didn’t require jail breaking.

Really seems to me that if anything this now points to the fault that is growing by the day, that having the device holders control the means of software (app) distribution is no beuno.

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Schmidt.Capela

If you include video game consoles, smart TVs, and other devices that are designed to run apps but only accept those apps from manufacturer-vetted “trusted” sources, then I would completely agree.

If I purchase a device it should be up to me what I run on it; running unauthorized software on it should, at most, void the software-specific part of the device’s warranty (though even that should be restored if I ever reformat and reinstall the device’s original software).

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Tanek

And cars. They basically install a computer in the car now, but for some reason I can’t upgrade any of the apps that were installed when I bought it? Only NEW cars get those? Suuuure.

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Java Jawa

We have smart people here, let’s get this done lol.

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Schmidt.Capela

With cars it’s a bit more complicated, as anything that interacts with the core systems has grave safety concerns; imagine something bugging out and leaving you without a working steering wheel while you are driving at high speed.

For entertainment software running on its own dedicated entertainment system, that doesn’t interact in any way with anything that would be important for safety, though, I’m all for it.

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Tanek

Yeah, no, I don’t want (or currently need) to mess with any of the bits and bobs that deal with the functioning of the actual car. But the other software…mapping, phone interface, music, etc. They tell me that I can’t get newer versions with more features that came out only months after my purchase. I don’t quite buy incompatibility that severe unless it is specifically designed to be that way.

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Java Jawa

Exactly, it literally should be as simple as:

Open App Store
Pick OS > Android, IOS, Console, Etc
Select Software > Install
Done

Consumers are happy, developers are happy. Apple and Google are punching their butts, but oh well.

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Ironwu

I have never personally been fond of Apple pricing policy and their closed system policy. I had owned and Apple IIE, and Apple IIC, and a Mac Plus.

When I wanted to upgrade my Mac Plus memory I found it was going to cost just as much to upgrade the memory as an entirely new PC, Monitor, and Keyboard with double the memory!

That was it for me and Apple products. Bought the PC. Sold the Mac Plus. Never looked back. Have never regretted it.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

I think I still have my Apple II somewhere. I should try and dig that up again.

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Tanek

Again with the “guidelines”. Apple is really making me wonder if Epic broke anything that was officially agreed to. I mean, they probably did, but the language Apple is using seems more like Epic went against something that was generally understood, but not set in stone.comment image

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jealouspirate

Just a couple weeks ago Tim Cook testified before the US Congress about Big Tech and antitrust. He was asked if Apple ever retaliates against companies that speak out with concerns about the App Store.

Tim Cook responded “We do not retaliate or bully people. It’s strongly against our company culture.”

A couple weeks later, because of an issue with Fortnite, Apple is retaliating not just against Fortnite’s TOS violations but against Epic as a whole and against the many 3rd party developers that use Epic’s Unreal Engine.

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aSlightDrizzle

Apple: Break the Terms of Service and we will enforce them.
Epic: *purposely breaks Terms of Service*
Apple: *removes Fortnite from AppStore as per their Terms of Service*
Epic: *files lawsuit*
Apple: Just remove the part of the App that violates the Terms of Service and we’re all good.
Epic: *refuses*
Apple: *deactivates developer account due to continued Terms of Service violations*
Epic: *shocked pikachu*

At the end of the day, this is a way for China to infiltrate the iOS market. Don’t forget Tencent own a large portion of Epic, and Epic in the filing wants to put their own app market on iOS. This would bypass all of Apple’s security features, as they would have no regulation of what is allowed on iOS devices and what isn’t. There are those of us who buy Apple products BECAUSE of the walled garden, not in spite of it.

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Ironwu

And all this has to do with Apple taking 30% cut how?

You do realize if Apple just lowered their cut to a reasonable amount this out-of-app-store purchase issue would just go away, yes?

Not everything is a foreign government conspiracy to take over the world.

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Schmidt.Capela

And why the heck should Apple be forced by the courts to accept a lower cut on their own store?

Now, if Epic was asking for Apple to be forced to provide a way to sideload apps for users that do desire that option — similar to what Google allows for Android — I would support that. It would be on each user if they want to allow third party app sources, whether they trust those sources, etc, and it could lead to Apple lowering its cut in order to stave off competition.

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cursedseishi

Technically? Apple already is forced to do that. There was legal action taken regarding the legality of Jailbreaking Iphones a bit ago wherein it was deemed legal and fair for people to break the protection on them. An amendment was made to the DMCA that made it legally supported.

You can already do this, and there is a whole community for it as well—third party app stores and all.

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Schmidt.Capela

What I meant was something similar to Android, where users can just go into the settings menu and click an option to allow apps from third party sources on their phones; Apple might be prevented from suing people over jailbreaking their phones, but they are under no requirement to make the process simple or even possible.

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Utakata

Probably more like, “Apple: Break the Terms of Service and we will enforce them. I dare you too!” o.O

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cursedseishi

This is literally just Apple copying Epic’s playbook, straight from ‘Silicone Knights vs Epic Games’. SK released a monstrosity of a flop (or two, or three), and desperate for a scapegoat and some (presumably) easy cash sued Epic Games regarding the Unreal Engine upon claims that Epic was profiting unfairly from it without offering any real support or honoring their end of the contract for it. I’m heavily paraphrasing things here, by the by, so look it up yourself…

In any case, once Silicone Knights made it clear they weren’t going to drop it? Epic countered with a suit of their own. The main game for the case was ‘Too Human’, however Epic sought not only to have every copy of the physical game still out in the market removed and damages paid back to them… They also wanted to pull any game released afterwards as well—including X-Men: Destiny and similarly be paid for those as well. This left Silicone Knights to pull a ‘Portalarium’ (or rather Portalarium pulling a ‘Silicone Knights), and dump the primary studio while ‘selling’ all assets to a “new” company helmed by all the same people. Leaving SK as a shell company to hold their debts and legal issues while they started anew.

And I’m sure Apple will bring that case up. It’s simple precedence. As well as argue that a ‘developer’ bullying and forcing other smaller developers to not only remove their games but also shut them down is more anti-competitive than Apple enforcing its standards uniformly with the specific clauses developers agree to when launching on the Apple Store.

It’s likely the same sort of language in the agreements, if not explicitly then implicitly, for both to give them the ability to do so.

It’s by no means a great move for developers, but this is precisely why Epic Games isn’t any better here. They were likely aware Apple would do this, and similarly are going to use this as a call to action to rally public opinion towards their side. Epic Games is intentionally endangering smaller developers (though it might be a small list of them) in order to win their slap fight.

Give it a day, maybe less. I’m sure Epic will drop some news next where they’re “supporting all App developers harmed by Apples continued bullying of smaller devs, #FreeEpicGamesForAll” with a nominal sum granted towards the lot of them.

Edit: Also, ‘retaliate to devs speaking out’ is key there. Epic goaded Apple into swinging first then called for the teacher. There were likely other avenues Epic could have gone down before suing Apple, but they weren’t interested in honest competition. Much like the EGS, they’d rather throw about their money and starve competition and force losses and backlashes rather than compete normally. Discussions don’t do that, lawsuits do.

That’s why Steam changed its 30% cut… but specifically only for AAA developers, because Epic was interested in them, not the indie market.

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Schmidt.Capela

I believe EPIC was in direct — and intentional — violation of clause 3 of the Apple Developer Agreement, which in theory means they don’t have any right to access Apple development material anymore even if you disregard the clause allowing Apple to just cut access to development material to any entity for any (or even no) reason.

Not to mention other agreements you likely have to sign before you can publish anything on the Apple App Store.