On DMA Day, Apple and Epic Get Thrown Back Into Battle

Apple Terminated Epic’s Developer Account
To our surprise, Apple has terminated that account and now we cannot develop the Epic Games Store for iOS.

Well, so much for getting along – let alone dancing...

We recently announced that Apple approved our Epic Games Sweden AB developer account. We intended to use that account to bring the Epic Games Store and Fortnite to iOS devices in Europe thanks to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). To our surprise, Apple has terminated that account and now we cannot develop the Epic Games Store for iOS. This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows Apple has no intention of allowing true competition on iOS devices. 

Okay, but why did Apple suddenly reverse course? According to Epic:

Apple said one of the reasons they terminated our developer account only a few weeks after approving it was because we publicly criticized their proposed DMA compliance plan. Apple cited this X post from this thread written by Tim Sweeney. Apple is retaliating against Epic for speaking out against Apple’s unfair and illegal practices, just as they’ve done to other developers time and time again. 

That post (and thread) is pretty tame:

Many folks on here think of me as an Apple hater. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no other group of designers and engineers on earth who can build as great products as Apple when they are directed towards that end. The woes begin when they are directed not to.

I mean, Sweeney himself has said much worse things about Apple in the past. I guess it's the fact that it came after the seeming detente between the two sides?

As shared in Epic's post, Apple's Phil Schiller reached out to Sweeney directly on February 23 to get some sort of assurance that Epic wouldn't try to break any developer agreements on purpose once again (which they had done in the past, which led to the removal of Fortnite from the App Store). Sweeney responded within a few hours with what seemed to be a reasonable, if quick, assurance that Epic would indeed act in good faith. The next thing we see (in this post, there may be more not shared – at least not yet – of course) is the letter from Apple's lawyers on March 2 – over a week later – that Sweeney's response was "insufficient and not credible". And then we get a link to the aforementioned tweet, which was from February 26, so yes, a few days after the Schiller note.

But perhaps what is really behind the 180 on Apple's part was the cited "recent submission in Australian litigation" – which seems to point to an ongoing lawsuit that Epic is still pursuing in Australia and is set to go to trial this year after a long delay. Perhaps Apple thought that this little peace treaty between the two sides also meant Epic would drop that case. And when they did not. Boom. Back to thermonuclear war.

Anyway, all of this all seems extremely petty on Apple's end. And potentially quite stupid. We're just hours away from the EU weighing in on Apple's proposed DMA changes. This is certainly not going to help Apple in that regard!

Apple also claims that Epic is a threat to their ecosystem, but this is an entirely unjustified excuse to terminate one of our accounts. Apple has been a long-time public supporter of Unreal Engine. We also have had ongoing contractual relationships with Apple going back to 2010 for Epic’s games, Unreal Engine, and our other creator tools.

Yeah, I don't get Epic being a "threat" – Apple's lawyers cited Epic's violation of the App Store rules that protect the "security, safety, and privacy of our users" in the note, but come on. I guess Apple feels like Epic is actively trying to destroy their position of strength with regard to the App Store. And, well, I've long thought this was Epic's actual playbook! But Apple is going to have to show a lot more evidence here, and quick. Because again, this just looks extremely petty at best, and like they're spitting in the face of the DMA changes at worst. At the worst possible time, no less!

I somehow don't think it's an accident that Epic revealed this maneuver by Apple on March 6, the very day the DMA is set to take effect. That letter from Apple's lawyers was received four days ago... There's a lot of last-minute gamesmanship going on!

Someone get Bob Iger on the phone to mediate, fast!

Update 3/8/24: Well, that didn't last too long. Apple folds!

Apple’s “Oh Shit, We Fucked Up” Epic EU Moment
Epic says Apple will reinstate developer account, clearing path for Epic Games Store on iPhone - 9to5MacAfter a whirlwind of events, Epic Games says Apple has reinstated their App Store developer account. The move clears the…9to5MacZac Hall Well, someone got to Apple. Either it was the EU or, perhaps