As Apple promised, it has now removed Epic Games’ developer account. Now, when you try to access Epic’s profile or any of its apps through a direct link, the App Store says “this app is currently not available in your country or region.”
The termination of Epic’s developer account comes as the latest move in the ongoing squabble and litigation between the two companies over App Store guidelines and payment methods. It began with Epic adding a direct payment method to Fortnite, which allowed users to buy content directly from Epic without using Apple’s in-app purchase system. The move was a protest of the system, which Apple forces developers to use.
Apps that use Apple’s payment system must give the company a 30 percent cut of payments received through it. This also applies to subscription services, although the cut drops to 15 percent after the first year. Epic accused Apple of using its App Store guidelines to unfairly force developers into using the company’s payment system and blocking competing systems from existing on the store.
Apple has long defended the 30 percent cut and its App Store guidelines, saying that the amount is industry standard — it is, except for Epic’s game store on PC, which takes 12 percent. The company also argued that the App Store guidelines help protect users and that the fee is crucial to helping it maintain the integrity of the App Store.
In response to Epic’s direct payment system, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store (Google followed suit with Fortnite on the Play Store). In turn, Epic launched a lawsuit against each company. Apple then threatened to remove Epic’s developer accounts. The company has several — one associated with Fortnite and a few other apps, and one for its Unreal Engine, which is used by a variety of games, movies and more.
A judge recently ruled that Apple can’t target Epic’s Unreal Engine, which is unrelated to the lawsuit. However, the company was free to remove Fortnite and the associated developer account since Epic could avoid the ban by removing the direct payment method until the courts come to a final decision. Epic has since refused to remove the direct payment method, leading to the termination of Epic’s developer account.
Because of that, Epic also confirmed that it wouldn’t be able to update Fortnite on Apple devices — the game is still available for people who already downloaded it. As such, Fortnite players on Apple devices didn’t get the new season of content, and can no longer use the game’s cross-play functionality to play with people on other platforms.
While all this takes place, Apple promoted Fortnite competitor PUBG Mobile on the App Store. It’s worth noting PUBG Mobile runs on the Unreal Engine and consequently could have been impacted if Apple was allowed to ban Epic’s associated developer account.
Update 08/29/2020 at 8:03am: Apple released a statement about the termination, which was shared by MacRumors. You can read it below:
“We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.”