Microsoft has warned that Apple’s threat to cut off Epic Games from its developer tools would significantly impact the broader gaming industry.
In a court filing on Sunday, the tech giant said Apple’s decision could negatively impact its own gaming business, as well as a raft of other game developers throughout the global industry.
“Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers,” wrote Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager of gaming developer experiences.
The ongoing spat between Apple and Epic Games, the creator of ‘Fortnite’, has reached boiling point with both firms on the offensive. The dispute stems from Apple’s decision to remove Epic titles from the iOS App Store after the developer violated in-app payment guidelines.
Neither Apple nor Epic have shown signs of backing down in the dispute, with the former calling Epic’s rule breach a “self-inflicted wound”.
Speaking to The Verge last week, Apple said: “The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers.”
Epic revealed that Apple also threatened to cut off access to developer tools required to maintain its Unreal Engine software. Many game developers license the software as part of their work.
Microsoft is concerned that if Apple cuts off access, it could affect the “Forza Street” title which uses Unreal Engine for the iOS version.
In the filing, Kevin Gammill said Apple’s decision would leave “very few” options available to creators and developers.
“Epic’s Unreal Engine is one of the most popular third-party game engines available to game creators, and in Microsoft’s view there are very few other options available for creators to license with as many features and as much functionality as Unreal Engine across multiple platforms, including iOS,” he wrote.
Additionally, Gammill warned that if Unreal Engine could not support games for iOS or macOS, the company would be forced to choose between “abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine”.
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Epic has been goading Apple throughout this dispute. The studio has gone so far as to circulate highly critical ads and start a #FreeFortnite event, which took place on the 23rd of August.
One video, named “Nineteen Eighty Fortnite”, replicates scenes from ‘1984’ and has a female character throwing a unicorn-shaped club into a screen containing a figure with an Apple-shaped head.