Apple on Friday said it suspended Epic Games’ developer account. It follows a temporary restraining order on Monday evening, in which a judge ruled that Apple can block Fortnite but not Epic’s developer account.
However, Apple said it terminated an Epic developer account that does not include the Unreal Engine that’s used by third-party developers to make 3D games, which keeps the move in line with the judge’s order.
“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,” Apple said. “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.”
An Epic Games spokesperson pointed CNBC to a blog post with earlier comments, including: “Apple is asking that Epic revert Fortnite to exclusively use Apple payments. Their proposal is an invitation for Epic to collude with Apple to maintain their monopoly over in-app payments on iOS, suppressing free market competition and inflating prices. As a matter of principle, we won’t participate in this scheme.”
The battle between Apple and Epic Games started after Epic included a new direct purchase option inside Fortnite that circumvented Apple’s 30% revenue cut from in-app purchases. Apple pulled the app from the App Store on the same day and, shortly after, Epic Games filed a lawsuit.
Apple said it provided Epic Games 14 days to update Fortnite to meet its app store guidelines, after which it would suspend Epic Games’ account. Apple said this is standard practice for all developers.
The suspension means Epic Games can no longer submit games or updates to games, like Fortnite, for publication to the iOS and Mac App Stores. While people who already have the game installed can still play it, they just won’t get any updates. Players also can’t buy any in-game content. They also can’t play the new Fortnite season, which recently launched.
Epic Games’ titles, including Fortnite, have been a huge success, including through Apple’s App Store.
“We estimate that, since January 2012, Epic Games’ mobile titles have been downloaded more than 159 million times across Apple’s App Store globally, generating approximately $1.2 billion in consumer spending,” Stephanie Chan, mobile insights strategist for Sensor Tower, an app analytics company, told CNBC. “Thirty percent of this revenue, or approximately $360 million, went to Apple.”
Apple said that Fortnite’s users have been directed by Epic Games to contact AppleCare, and that those requests have caused refund quality issues and support problems for Apple users around the world.