Apple retaliation against Epic Games could spell disaster for game developers using Unreal Engine

  • The lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games, the owner of Fortnite, could threaten any game developers using Unreal Engine, including those in Northern Ireland.

    Last weekend, gaming giant Epic Games filed a legal complaint against global tech firm Apple that accused the company of maintaining an illegal monopoly on the iOS market. Any game or app launched on iOS must go through Apple's App Store, and all in-app purchases must use Apple's in-app purchase system that gives the company a 30% cut of all sales.

    Epic kicked off this legal dispute by introducing a third party payment system to the iOS version of its incredibly successful online game Fortnite, prompting Apple to remove the game from its store for breaching the App Store terms of service. Epic then filed a lawsuit claiming that apple maintained a monopoly on the store and that forcing the use of its own payment system was illegal.

    Apple has now retaliated by threatening to cut off Epic's access to all iOS developer tools if it doesn't comply, and that could be a big problem for game developers all over the world. Epic also makes the Unreal game engine and it integrates the iOS developer tools into the engine to let developers prepare their games to be published on iOS, and revoking Epic's access to those tools could mean they can't be offered with the engine.

    The game development scene in Northern Ireland includes a variety of companies using different game engines, with most companies using either Unity or Unreal. Game design courses at our local universities also tend to lean toward using Unreal Engine as it's used more heavily in industry abroad and at larger companies. Both game engines include a set of tools for developing games and publishing them to multiple platforms, such as PlayStation 4 or Android and iOS.

    Epic has filed in injunction against Apple, stating that it will be "irreparably harmed long before final judgment comes" and that the decision would be "catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business." This reaction from Apple has been seen as a retaliatory strike against Epic's other business interests separate from the Fortnite in-app purchase dispute.

    Source: The Verge, BBC News

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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