Microsoft has stepped into the battle between Epic Games and Apple, filing a statement in support of the former and explaining that Apple's support of Epic's Unreal Engine is critical for gamers and developers.
The conflict between Epic and Apple began back in mid-August when Fortnite released an update that bypassed Apple (and Google's) in-app purchase rules, including a mandatory 30% fee on iOS. In return, Apple removed the game from the App Store, and the two companies have been biting back and forth ever since.
Now, according to Epic's legal filings, Apple is "planning to cut off the company's access to all development tools necessary to create software for Apple's platforms" on August 28th, "including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple has never claimed violated any Apple policy" (thanks Android Police).
In response to this, Microsoft has stepped in by filing a statement in support of Epic Games, explaining that Unreal Engine tech is critical for numerous game creators including Microsoft, and that Apple denying Epic access to its SDK will put Unreal Engine and the developers that are using it at a significant disadvantage:
The statement (penned by General Manager of Gaming Developer Experiences Kevin Gammill) also goes on to say that if Unreal Engine couldn't support games for iOS or MacOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on those platforms or opting for a different game engine, and that Unreal Engine's inability to develop updates for those platforms could harm already-launched titles moving forward.
"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."
We highly recommend checking out Microsoft's full statement for even more insight on this matter. Let us know your thoughts on the situation in the comments below.
[source twitter.com, via androidpolice.com]
“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.”
“The statement also goes on to say that if Unreal Engine couldn't support games for iOS or MacOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on those platforms or opting for a different game engine.”
The latter sounds like the right direction to me. Microsoft has the largest software prowess and historical advantage to pull off something like that and save billions of $ in licenses payment to that Tim Swooney. In fact Microsoft is in the perfect position since it already has vastly mature software development ecosystem and services.
It does not sound like MS is taking Epic side entirely, as much as they are saying that taking away all access to dev tools is overkill, and Apple should just kill just the one app.
I do think, though, it's up to Epic. They can just obey their contractual agreement, remove the payment loophole, and continue their case in court while doing business as before. They just don't want to because they really want to hold their own players hostage.
I don't agree with Apple on many things, but this I agree on. Everyone out there charges 30% on their platforms, and Apple making profit of their hardware is a lame reason to single them out. Don't forget consoles make a profit after a few years and Google does not make a penny of android devises sold, yet Epic is treating Google the same way.
@Tharsman You don’t seem to understand? Apple are threatening to revoke the licence for ALL Unreal Engine games in the App Store! Not just Fortnite, so no game using the engine will work and will be removed off the store. It’s pathetic and I hope Apple loses, with the EU digging it’s claws in and as a result the US also investigating them, people are smelling blood and rightfully so too. Remember Apple has special arrangements with Uber and Amazon and Netflix which it will not extend to others. That’s anti competitive as per the complaints against them currently being investigated. The similar situation happened with Microsoft and it’s Internet Explorer, the company came incredibly close to being split up over that, and they faced hefty EU fines and had to do why the EU requested in the end, and they have been fined since for breaches of a similar nature, the EU has also heavily fined Google over differing breaches of regulation too, plus the fact Apple is attempting to get its 12 billion dollars in back taxes back from the EU which Ireland owes.
It’s not looking good for these greedy giant American corporations, Microsoft excluded currently, but Apple is particularly arrogant about it all too to boot and I doubt that goes down well and won’t win them any leeway.
A 30% cut is disgusting. People will proclaim its business, no it’s pure greed and proof capitalism does not work all the time.
IMO since Jobs does Apple has slid further and further down the toilet in its obsession with chasing share price.
Does anyone feel like there is something else going on in the background? Maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in me but why all of this at this time?
Companies worth billions fighting over $. Apple blocking XCloud is beyond ridiculous. But Epic brought in on themselves by circumventing the 30% thing.
It is making me strongly consider going with Android for my next phone, however.
@S1ayeR74 You are wrong, Apple is NOT threatening to kill all unreal engine games.
What is at contest is that they will not be able to update the iOS version of the engine further, preventing devs from using newer versions of the engine to update their software, eventually, it is expected the engine even on its current firm, would not work on future major revisions of iOS.
Also, Apple has no arrangement with Netflix. They simply manage their subscriptions outside the app, via the web, while obeying the rules (can't link to the website from the app)
Uber offers real world services, Apple policy always has strictly applied only to digital goods and services.
Amazon is the only exception out there, only for video rentals, only on Apple TV.
If you think 30% is too much, you better apply that to everyone, even consoles.
@Tharsman Yes when iOS is updated every single unreal engine game will stop working so I am right, don’t know why you think otherwise?
And yes Apple DOES have special a agreement with Amazon:
I couldn’t find a link to the one with Netflix. But it does allow the Uber app to use different rules to everyone else.
And yes 30% is disgusting for Apple doing nothing. Because it will take 30% of a penny as much as a hundred pounds. It’s rules are draconian and purely designed to defeat competition to itself. This will be seen but the EU competition commission who will punish Apple or kick them out of the EU, you need a licence to operate in differing countries and that can be revoked.
@S1ayeR74 have you ever published software to the app store? Because I have, and am very familiar how the process works, even familiar with what happens when my license was no longer valid.
And no, Uber does not use any different rules. It is part of Apple's rules that real world services don't have to pay and can take credit card payment directly. This includes best buy, grubhub, Target, Pizza Hut, litteraly any real world service.
Despite this, Amazon can't sell ebooks or music via their app, because of these rules.
@graysoncharles @S1ayeR74 You guys are 100% mistaken. If Apple revokes Epic’s access to developer tools, it simply means they won’t have the ability to keep Unreal Engine up to date with Apple platforms. It does NOT mean Apple is removing or revoking applications that use Unreal Engine. It is a complete lack of understanding from irresponsible media who post the doom and gloom articles.
Unreal Engine games will still work, until they don’t - the same as any application on non-console hardware. The difference would be that it is up to the developers to fix their applications in whatever manner they are able, and can’t rely on Epic to keep their stock engine up to date.
Epic has 100% brought this on themselves. They circumvented their agreement with Apple and with Google. That is a breach of contract and they got what they deserved. Any fallout that affects other developers or customers falls squarely on Epic.
If Tim Sweeney was a responsible executive or gave two s***s about anyone but himself, he would have filed the lawsuit before putting on this performance. If the courts agreed with his case, he could have recouped the commissions paid to Apple (and Google) during that time period.
Just a reminder, Microsoft has to watch out what exactly they are siding with.
The Xbox store (as well as PS store etc) also all take 30% and as far as I know you can’t just put in your own solution regarding payment and subscriptions.
So I think in that regard Microsoft shouldn’t open its mouth, as they are not better than Apple.
So if people say Apples rules are draconian with their 30%, then please also go to all the other parties that take 30% and criticize them as well (Xbox, PSN, Steam).
One solution I see is that Apple allows third party app stores to be installed as an option. But that will come with a bunch of other issues Apple will have to deal with first, which they want to avoid. (Rise in malware, cracked iOS games)
As a developer (and ex-iOS developer) myself, I was always fine with 30%. And I also implemented ways to avoid paying anything to Apple (just like Netflix does) at the cost of UX.
And I can understand that a large company that is capable of implementing its own systems may see it ridiculous that they have to pay Apple 30% for something they are forced to use but don’t want to.
Honestly, I think Apple should allow devs to implement their own payment processing systems to avoid paying Apple 15/30%. But where does that then leave other stores (Xbox, PSN, etc)?
I am all for Apple allowing xCloud, as that is just ridiculous. And the above issue is also understandable.
But for the 30% revenue split problem I fail to see a quick and easy solution without bringing the same problem to other platforms as well. People don’t think enough about the consequences possible solutions can bring.
So Epic, aka Tencent, aka the Chinese State is waging war on apples orwellian business, and Microsoft is jumping into the fray because an entire industry's business is at stake due to apples dictatorship.
The troubling part is the Chinese State is the only faction even making sense here....
And yet Microsoft would have done the same thing as Apple as their developer TOS reads very similar. Are Microsoft happy for developers on Xbox to try to sneak things in too? Be careful what you wish for Microsoft.
The wording is very clear. Microsoft will also terminate for a breach of contract
@tatsumi Unlike Apple though you can simply walk into a grocery store and buy your game off the shelf.... does the same 30% rule apply then??
@Grot No it’s been clearly reported, it will remove their developers account which means Epic will not be able to update their engine which means it will NOT work with new iOS updates. Time and time again Apple has required apps to update to continue working due to some new feature or rule, iOS 14 will no doubt be the same and it’s just around the corner, and according to Apple the majority of iOS owners update, probably because Apple tends to shove the updates in your face, so your wrong no Unreal Engine game will work and I bet anything Apple will require all games to be updated after iOS 14 is installed.
That’s the reading games vanish from the store because the devs aren’t able to constantly keep them updated just to work with Apples latest iOS.
Seems like a lot of Apple defenders on here. Sorry but Apple fully deserves this as does the whole industry 30% is just pure greed. Anyway I suspect the EU will force Apple to change, maybe others will then follow?
In fact let’s compare shall we? On my iPhone I can ONLY get an app or game from Apple, NO where else, and due to this they force the developers to abide by there rules apart from some it seems..
On a games console I can buy my game from the store built into the console, a huge choice of physical brick and mortar stores, a huge selection of online retailers, I can even buy them second hand from again a huge selection of brick and mortar stores and online retailers. I can even borrow a game to play totally free..
And then I even have the choice to use other e stores on my console like EAs store to get my games right on my games console BY PASSING the Xbox e store...
So with Apple I have one choice and one choice only, with a games console I have a plethora of choices, so cut the hypocrisy here trying to compare Microsoft as the same as Apple it clearly is not with the Xbox....
@mousieone Both Apple and Google are going through some huge antitrust investigations in the EU regarding their App Store monopolies and payments practices. Simultaneously Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook have just had to all appear in front of congress for similar reasons.
Many companies, both big and small (Spotify, Rakuten, Basecamp, Hey app, Telegram app and others) have protested against and some sued Apple and the others over these issues.
If we EVER want to see the 30% fees reduced and the monopolies be bought under a little control NOW is the time. This affects so much more than gaming
@S1ayeR74 funny you ask about walking into a store, since publishers only end up seeing about 45% from physical sales when all is said and done. Oh and this is only new copies. If you buy second hand, as you mention being an option, the publisher gets zero.
As for updates, I had games that were published (by me and by others) that had not been updated since 2011, in some cases, continue to work until Apple removed 32 bit binary support.
Software does NOT break every time Apple releases a new update, the things that change the most drastically are Apple UI APIs that games almost never use.
It still sucks, if Unreal decided to stop updating the engine for iOS, developers would be in a tough spot. Even then, Epic has options to keep updating the engine without ever again publishing to Apple platforms, but I (almost) would understand it if they opted not to.
Sooner or later, feature parity with other platforms would be a bigger issue for devs than anything else, and some might decide to migrate to other engines.
@themightyant yes I get that. I was saying the timing seems “planned”, like a coordinated effort.
@tatsumi "As a developer (and ex-iOS developer) myself, I was always fine with 30%. And I also implemented ways to avoid paying anything to Apple (just like Netflix does) at the cost of UX."
This is something a lot of people seem to think cant happen, in great part because Epic seems to be doing a good job at shrugging it under the rug.
Devs can setup payment systems outside their app, on the web. The game or app simply can not mention the website, or link to it. Devs want to collect payments, they need to do the marketing for that themselves to let them know where to spend the money.
Apple has actually allowed this forever, consoles just recently started offering this, and only because it is required for Cross Play (vbucks sold on XBox need to be available in PS4, main reason PlayStation held back for so long on allowing cross-play at all.)
Epic specifically can sell you vbucks on any platform you play at, even Epic store launcher (where they keep all the money) and make those vbucks available on iOS. Hell, Epic could update Fortnite to not accept any payments in the game itself, they just dont want to, because they know people mostly buy on impulse, and the minute they think about going to a website, they change their minds.
"Honestly, I think Apple should allow devs to implement their own payment processing systems to avoid paying Apple 15/30%. But where does that then leave other stores (Xbox, PSN, etc)?"
I honestly still think 30% is peanuts compared to how little money a dev would see before in the standard retail space. There is a reason so many devs still sell through Steam, whom also takes 30%, despite PC being an open platform and the devs having the option to sell their games directly through their own websites. Also one of the reasons why so many big publishers are pushing soooo hard for players to go all digital.
The only thing I think Apple really should do is allow users to side-load apps the way you can on Android. Warn the user every time they install software from outside the store, make them go through a process to open that functionality so they never get themselves into that accidentally by clicking "ok" too many times. At that point, Epic can offer users a side-loaded game store of their own (although it likely will fail as much as it did on Android.)
@Tharsman People drastically understate the value of customer acquisition in business. Apple has acquired a literal billion customers to sell things to, and as you mentioned, their fee is very modest compared to retail. The value in what they give to developers far outweighs the 30% they take.
Apple isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Neither is any other corporation. Apple needs to work on some draconian policies. They need to increase App Store visibility for a greater variety of developers (I think they’re doing this more and more lately). But, on the other hand, the idea of a computer that runs a console-like environment is appealing to many people. Hell, Microsoft has already jumped on board - see the Surface Pro X and Windows 10 S. That walled garden has a place in the market, and for folks who don’t like it, there are other options.
@S1ayeR74 Nobody is forcing you to buy an iPhone. If their style of computer doesn’t appeal to you, why buy one? Go with a more open platform.
It’s funny that in the pursuit of choice, folks are trying to remove the only walled garden console-like computing device choice from those who want it. A real representation of folks these days - “more choice, as long as it’s more of MY choice.”
@Grot well if you know of a device that’s as good and reliable as the Apple Watch do tell, I am yet to see one on Android. Especially with all the medical certifications the Apple Watch has.
@mousieone I think that anyone who has an issue with the level of control these monolithic companies have (basically everyone...right?) is piling in now, every bit of evidence and varying viewpoints from different industries helps.
I don’t think it’s some mass co-ordinated attack just that It seems like it’s now or never for antitrust and clipping their wings back. If the various commissions and congress can see hundreds of similar issues presented and lots of press it may help swing favour. (I’m not optimistic sadly)
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