The ongoing kaiju-sized hand-slapping fight between Epic Games and Apple isn’t just about two massive corporations having a hissy fit over money; it’s tangentially about whether developers will be able to use Unreal Engine to create games on iOS, something that readers will recall is under real threat thanks to retaliatory actions taken by Apple like cutting Epic off from iOS and Mac dev tools.
Now, a third party — Microsoft — has entered the ongoing legal dispute with a formal statement of support for Epic from general manager for gaming developer experiences Kevin Gammill, warning that Apple’s moves are hurting more than just Epic Games.
“Because iOS is a large and growing market for games, Apple’s discontinuation of Unreal Engine’s ability to support iOS will be a material disadvantage for the Unreal Engine in future decisions by Microsoft and other game creators as to the choice of an engine for new games.
“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 projects. When game creators are planning development projects, which can last for years, it is important to have confidence that the chosen engine will continue to be available on and support all platforms on which the game creators plan to distribute their games.
“Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.”
The fact that Microsoft is siding with Epic Games is perhaps no surprise, as the company also had cancelled plans to bring its games streaming service Project xCloud to iOS due to Apple’s restrictions — a restriction that Apple says is in place because Apple can’t personally review every playable game in the Game Pass library that xCloud draws from.
It’s still unclear whether Apple’s block of Unreal Engine is actually hurting devs using the engine, but the point stands that even the perception of things going wrong with an engine is damaging. One only has to look at what happened with Improbable’s SpatialOS and Unity as an example of what happens when engine support is suddenly severed.