Apple terminates Epic’s third party iOS game store ambitions

Apple has terminated Epic Game’s iOS developer account, stiffiling the game publisher’s ambitions of an EU third-party iOS app store. In a blog post, the Fortnite publisher shared a letter from Apple that called Epic “verifiably untrustworthy.” Ultimately, Apple does not believe that Epic will comply with contractual obligations set forth in its developer agreement.

“Epic’s egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate ‘any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion. In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise that right,” Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz told The Verge.

This move comes after a lengthy legal battle between Epic and Apple (and separately Google) allegedly unfair competitive practices. While Epic did secure a minor victory, the courts largely ruled in Apple’s favor. This decision was solidified after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take on Epic’s case in January 2024.

While Epic Games’ war against Apple’s alleged monopoly stalled out stateside, the publisher was gearing up to launch a third-party app store in Europe. On February 16, Epic annouced plans to open up its own storefront on iOS thanks to the E.U.’s new Digital Markets Act. The DMA looks to ensure fairer competition by imposing stricter requirements on “gatekeepers” like Apple. The legislation goes into effect tomorrow, March 7.

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Epic’s blog post claims Apple sought reassurances that Epic would comply with its policies. The tech giant pointed to Epic CEO Tim Sweeny’s outspoken criticism of Apple as a sign that Epic would not. Despite Epic offering written assurances, the game publisher will have to readjust its plans.

Launching its own storefront would allow Epic to relaunch Fortnite on iOS following its removal in 2020. Sweeney did suggest Epic might partner with another third-party app store to bring Fortnite back to iOS.

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