Microsoft Steps Into the Heated Battle Between Apple and Epic

By Novak Bozovic / August 24, 2020

What started as an announcement regarding new payment options for Fortnite, quickly turned into a heated battle between Apple and Epic Games. More precisely, the cause of this commotion was Epic's decision to bypass Apple's payment channels on iOS, preventing the Cupertino-based company from collecting its 30% App Store cut. As days and weeks went by, the size of this conflict grew and started pulling in other tech giants as well.

The latest company to choose its side is none other than Microsoft. As announced by Phil Spencer (via Twitter), the company's executive vice-president of 'Gaming at Microsoft,' a formal declaration was submitted. This placed the company on Epic's side of the conflict. This decision came as a response to Apple's intention to stop supporting 'Unreal Engine' on iOS and macOS, which could have long-lasting effects on the global gaming industry.

In case 'Unreal Engine,' owned by Epic Games, gets its support revoked on Apple's part, this could put developers using the engine in a very problematic position. More precisely, there wouldn't be any methods available to patch security flaws or fix bugs. That would mean that supporting existing games built upon 'Unreal Engine' would be close to impossible.

The declaration states - "If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS or macOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine when preparing to develop new games," as said by Kevin Gammill, Microsoft's general manager for Gaming Developer Experiences. You can find the full text of the declaration here.

This latest development is a result of Apple's response to Epic's lawsuit on Friday, saying that Epic is creating a sense of "false emergency" by accepting direct payments, which violates Apple's rules. It was also revealed that before Epic's decision to test Apple's rules, the gaming company approached Apple and asked for a special deal. That request was denied, as granting exceptions would "fundamentally change the way in which Epic offers apps on Apple's iOS platform."

In a surprising turn of events, a leak appeared close to a month ago – showing that Apple can grant special terms for its partners. For example, the company reduced its cut to 15% to get Amazon Prime Video on iOS and Apple TV.

As this legal process unfolds, we'll most certainly get to learn about more of these "special deals" and Apple's treatment of individual developers and companies. When it comes to Apple's perspective, Epic Games is blackmailing the company. And when it comes to Epic Games, this company is battling for "basic freedoms of all consumers and developers."

No matter who gets to be on the winning side of this lawsuit, one thing is sure: this whole situation will either cement Apple's position or endanger the company's fundamental concept of the iOS and macOS App Stores.

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