Apple has given the Fortnite developer Epic Games less than two weeks to stop breaking its payment rules or it will cut off Epic’s access to development tools on Mac and iOS.
The ultimatum puts Epic’s wider business at risk if it continues the standoff it started on Friday when it unilaterally introduced its own payment mechanism to Fortnite, bypassing Apple’s requirement to pay a 30% cut of earnings to the App Store. Apple removed Fortnite from the store in response.
It also threatens to limit the work of clients of the company’s Unreal Engine, a tool used in creations as diverse as Disney’s The Mandalorian, Mercedes’ vehicle prototypes and Sky Sports’ live graphics, as well as in video games including Fortnite.
While the Unreal Engine will continue to work if Epic’s developer account is closed, Epic will be unable to fix or improve the Mac or iOS versions.
Epic, which is suing Apple over its alleged App Store monopoly, filed in court on Monday to try to prevent the “adverse action”. It said in a filing that “absent a temporary restraining order granted without further notice, Epic is likely to suffer irreparable harm”.
An Epic spokesperson said: “Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and has informed Epic that on Friday 28 August Apple will terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools We are asking the court to stop this retaliation.”
Apple confirmed it had issued the warning. “The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users and a great business opportunity for all developers. Epic has been one of the most successful developers on the App Store, growing into a multibillion-dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world,” a spokesperson said.
“We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the store. 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.”