Apple terminates developer account of Fortnite maker Epic Games

Termination is latest salvo in anti-trust battle between Epic and iPhone maker over Apple’s in-app purchase rules.

Epic Games Fortnite Apple 1984 spoof
A scene from the 'Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite' short released by Epic Games, the maker of the popular video game Fortnite, which Apple Inc has removed from its App Store for violating the company's in-app payment guidelines [File: Epic Games/Handout via Reuters]

Apple Inc. said it terminated Epic Games’s App Store developer account in the midst of a legal battle over the iPhone maker’s in-app-purchase rules.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant had recently threatened to do this after Epic added an option for users of its Fortnite video game to pay Epic directly for in-game upgrades. That avoided a 30% cut that Apple takes through its App Store and broke Apple’s in-app-purchase rules.

“We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store,” Apple said in a statement. “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.”

Epic Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company sued Apple earlier this month after Apple pulled Fortnite from the App Store.

A court order last week denied Epic’s motion to force Apple to re-instate Fornite on the App Store. However, the judge ruled that Apple could not terminate the developer account that Epic uses for Unreal Engine, a graphics technology that is used by many game developers. Apple said on Friday is it complying with the order and not ending that secondary account.

Apple said Epic has repeatedly submitted updates of its Fortnite video game that are “designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store.” Apple added that 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.”

The termination of Epic’s main account means that the developer will no longer be able to submit new apps or updates to the App Store. It also means users won’t be able to make in-app-purchases inside of Epic’s games and apps, but that customers who have already purchases Epic titles will have continued access in their current form.

Apple added that terminating Epic’s developer account is normal practice for such violations. It also said that Epic Games has asked customers to direct frustration over the situation to AppleCare support, creating issues for other Apple customers.

(Updates throughout with more context on Epic’s account termination.)

Source: Bloomberg