Microsoft has shown it's support for Epic Games in its request for a restraining order against Apple, noting that developers will be severely harmed if Unreal Engine games are banned from Apple's store.
The Redmond, Washington company filed a statement supporting Epic's request for the order, which hopes to prevent Apple from removing Epic's access to its iOS and macOS development tools and platform. According to Microsoft's Kevin Gammill, the general manager of gaming developer experiences, Unreal Engine is a "critical technology" for a number of game developers on iOS's platform, and that blocking it on Apple's platforms will "harm game creators and gamers."
In case you missed the news week, there's an extraordinary situation currently going on between Epic Games, the developers of the ever-popular Fortnite Battle Royale game, Apple, and Google, who have both removed the game from their app stores due to violation of their terms and conditions.
Today we filed a statement in support of Epic's request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine. Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer developers & gamers https://t.co/72bLdDkvUx— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 23, 2020
It seems like an extraordinary - and intentional - play by Epic. The company silently pushed an update to the game that allowed users to pay Epic Games directly for microtransactions within the game, bypassing the Apple and Google app store altogether. This goes against the terms and conditions of both app stores - both companies take a 30% cut of all transactions made through apps available through their stores.
Apple, in particular, hasn't taken to Epic's shenanigans well, with shots being fired back and forth between both companies. The tech conglomerate has now officially informed Epic Games that it will formally terminate it's access to it's Apple developer accounts and tools on the 28th of August. This means Epic Games will no longer be able to publish their games on Apple's platforms, including MacOS. Epic responded by filing a restraining order against the move, which would see not just Epic's platform, but potentially any Unreal Engine based game, removed from Apple's platforms.
Xbox's Phil Spencer confirmed on Twitter that the company had filed in support of Epic, stating that it was "the right thing for gamer [sic] developers and gamers."
Microsoft notes in their filing that many smaller and indie game developers use Unreal Engine as a basis for their games and that there is little in the way of alternatives that these developers can turn to if the platform is banned from Apple's platforms.
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,
Apple has filed a response to the restraining order request, stating that it should not be granted on the basis that any damage is "entire self-inflicted" due to Epic Games' recent behavior. Apple has also stated that the situation can also be "rectified immediately" if the developer removes the update from Fortnite that breaks the app store terms and conditions.