Apple Threatens to Terminate Epic Games' Developer Accounts on August 28
That includes Epic's access to the development tools necessary to create software for the Unreal Engine that Epic offers to third-party developers for their games. In response, Epic has filed a court order asking a Northern California court to stop Apple from removing Epic's App Store access. [PDF] From the filing:
It told Epic that by August 28, Apple will cut off Epic's access to all development tools necessary to create software for Apple's platforms--including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple has never claimed violated any Apple policy.
Cutting off Epic's access to Mac and iOS developer tools could have a significant impact on all of the apps and games that use Epic's Unreal Engine. Apple in its letter to Epic Games letting it know about the upcoming account closures says that Epic can avoid having its access revoked by following Apple's App Store guidelines. From Apple's letter to Epic:
Upon further review of the activity associated with your Apple Developer Program membership, we have identified several violations of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement. Therefore, your Apple Developer Program account will be terminated if the violations set forth below are not cured within 14 days. [...]
If your membership is terminated, you may no longer submit apps to the App Store, and your apps still available for distribution will be removed. You will also lose access to the following programs, technologies, and capabilities:
- All Apple software, SDKs, APIs, and developer tools
- Pre-release versions of iOS, iPad OS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS
- Pre-release versions of beta tools such as Reality Composer, Create ML, Apple Configurator, etc.
- Notarization service for macOS apps
- App Store Connect platform and support (for example, assistance with account transition, password reset, app name issues)
- Access to provisioning portal for certificate generation, and provisioning profile generation
- Ability to enable Apple services in-app (i.e. Apple Pay, CloudKit, PassKit, Music Kit, HomeKit, Push Notifications, Siri Shortcuts, Sign in with Apple, kernel extensions, FairPlay Streaming)
- Access to Apple-issued keys for connecting to services such as MusicKit, DeviceCheck, APNs, CloudKit, Wallet
- Access to Developer ID signing certificates and Kernel Extension signing certificates
- Developer Technical Support
- Participation in Universal App Quick Start Program, including the right to use the Developer Transition Kit (which must be returned to Apple)
- Engineering efforts to improve hardware and software performance of Unreal Engine on Mac and iOS hardware; optimize Unreal Engine on the Mac for creative workflows, virtual sets and their CI/Build Systems; and adoption and support of ARKit features and future VR features into Unreal Engine by their XR team
We hope that you are able to cure your breaches of the Apple Program License Agreement and continue to participate in the program.
Epic is asking the court to prevent Apple from taking "any adverse action" against it, including restricting, suspending, or terminating Epic's access to the Apple Developer program. Epic also asks that the court restrain Apple from removing, de-listing, refusing to list, or otherwise making the Fortnite app unavailable, or modifying the Fortnite code.
The dispute between Apple and Epic kicked off last week when Epic made a calculated decision to defy Apple's App Store rules and introduce a direct payment option for in-game currency in Fortnite, skirting Apple's in-app purchase system.
Apple swiftly responded by removing the Fortnite app from the App Store, prompting Epic Games to file a pre-planned lawsuit against Apple accusing the Cupertino company of being a "the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation" and imposing "anti-competitive restraints" and using "monopolistic practices in markets" against App Store developers.
Epic also released an anti-Apple video based on Apple's famous 1984 ad, which encourages people to "join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming 1984."
At this point in time, Fortnite remains unavailable from the App Store, and barring court intervention or a decision to comply with the rules, all of Epic's developer accounts will be terminated at the end of the month.