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Epic Games says Apple threatened to revoke developer account

A gamer plays the video game ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’ developed by Epic Games during the ‘Paris Games Week’ on October 26, 2018 in Paris, France.

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Epic Games said on Monday that Apple has threatened to revoke its developer account, meaning Epic will no long be able to make apps for the App Store, the only way for consumers to install software on an iPhone. 

The escalation comes the week after Epic Games, makers of Fortnite, released a new direct payment mechanism designed to bypass the App Store’s payment system, from which Apple takes 30%. Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store last week, saying Fortnite violated App Store rules, and Epic Games sued it in an attempt to force it to change its business practices that give it control of the App Store.

Epic Games said on Monday that Apple had given it until August 28 before removing the game makers’ developer accounts, which would make it unable to release new games or publish updates to its current apps. Currently, Epic Games publishes one game on the U.S. App Store, a puzzle game called Battle Breakers. Epic Games also makes the Unreal Engine, which many iPhone and Android games use to integrate realistic graphics and physics.

“Then when Epic sued Apple to break its monopoly on app stores and in-app payments, Apple retaliated ferociously,” Epic Games lawyers wrote in a Monday filing. “It told Epic that by August 28, Apple will cut off Epic’s access to all development tools necessary to create software for Apple’s platforms—including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple has never claimed violated any Apple policy.”

Epic Games is claiming that Apple is “attacking Epic’s entire business in unrelated areas.” It’s seeking an injunction that will “preserve status quo” and permit the company to continue to sell apps on the App Store. 

Last week, Epic Games also rolled out a marketing campaign encouraging players to “join the fight” against Apple. The short video made by Epic Games included an unflattering caricature of Apple CEO Tim Cook as a rotten apple.

Epic is one of several companies currently engaged in high-profile disputes over Apple’s control of the App Store and its 30% fee. Spotify, Match Group, and Facebook have all publicly criticized Apple’s App Store policies in recent weeks. 

Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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