Epic says its iOS game store plans have stalled because Apple banned its developer account

Epic’s plans to launch its own third-party app store on iOS in the EU could be in trouble after Apple terminated the developer account it wanted to use. In a blog post published today, the company shared a letter from Apple’s lawyers calling Epic “demonstrably unreliable” and saying that Apple does not believe Epic will fulfill its contractual obligations under its developer agreement.

“Please note that Apple has immediately terminated membership in the Developer Program of Epic Games Sweden AB,” said the letter – which is dated March 2. It cites Apple’s “contractual right” to terminate the developer program license agreement with the company at “Apple’s sole discretion.”

While Apple’s developer account termination will impact Epic’s plans to launch its own app store on iOS, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney suggested in a briefing that Epic is still Fortnite back to iOS via the third-party app store of another company in the European Union.

The exchange came in the wake of Apple announcing plans to allow third-party app stores on iOS in the EU as a result of the bloc’s new Digital Markets Act. Epic quickly announced plans to launch a game store on iOS as a result of the changes and relaunch Fortnite on the platform following its removal in 2020. It announced that it had secured a developer account for Epic Games Sweden on February 16, reversing a ban placed on Apple alongside Fortnite‘S removal.

In a February 23 email shared by Epic Games, Apple’s Phil Schiller contacted Sweeney to request “written assurance” that Epic Games “will honor its obligations.” Schiller cited concerns about Sweeney’s public statements about Apple’s DMA compliance plan and the fact that Epic breached its agreement with Apple in 2020 by adding third-party payment support to Fortnite on iOS, resulting in removal from the App Store. “Tell us in clear, unqualified terms why we should trust Epic this time,” Schiller’s email concludes.

Sweeney responded the same day. “Epic and its subsidiaries are acting in good faith and will comply with all terms of any current and future agreements with Apple, and we will be happy to provide Apple with specific further assurances on the subject matter you seek,” Sweeney wrote. .

“Please note that Apple has immediately terminated membership in Epic Games Sweden AB’s Developer Program.”

Then, on March 2, Apple’s lawyers sent a letter to Epic saying the iPhone maker had terminated Epic Games Sweden’s developer account. “In the past, Epic has denigrated Apple’s developer terms, including the Developer Program License Agreement (DPLA), as a prelude to violating them,” the letter said. “Given that pattern, Apple recently contacted Mr. Sweeney directly to give him the opportunity to explain why Apple should trust Epic this time and allow Epic Games Sweden AB to become an active developer. Mr Sweeney’s response to that request was completely inadequate and not credible.”

The letter also mentions February 26 X message from Sweeney and “a recent submission in the Australian court case” and said Apple is concerned that Epic Games Sweden “has no intention of adhering to its contractual obligations to Apple and is in fact a means to manipulate proceedings in other jurisdictions.” In a briefing with reporters, Epic’s vice president of public policy, Corie Wright, said Epic’s submission in an Australian lawsuit amounted to it confirming its public plans to launch an app store in the EU as a result of the DMA .

In the briefing, Sweeney said Epic received no communication from Apple between Schiller’s email and the letter from Apple’s lawyers and said he would have been willing to provide “any assurance they wanted” to comply with the contractual agreement. When asked if Epic planned to adhere to Apple’s terms for developers despite Sweeney’s public criticism of its policies, Sweeney responded, “Yes, absolutely.”

In its blog post, Epic accused Apple of “eliminating one of the Apple App Store’s biggest potential competitors,” “undermining [its] opportunity to be a viable competitor’ and ‘show other developers what happens when you try to compete with Apple or are critical of their unfair practices.’

Sweeney has been intensely critical of the way the iPhone maker is implementing the changes to iOS under the DMA, calling them a “new instance of Malicious Compliance” and “hot garbage.” He said Apple is “forcing developers to choose between App Store exclusivity and store terms, which will be illegal under DMA, or accepting a new, also illegal, anti-competitive scheme full of new Junk Fees on downloads and new Apple taxes on payments they do not make. t process.”

In particular, Apple’s critics have taken issue with plans to charge a 50 eurocent “Core Technology Fee” for each annual app installation after the first 1 million downloads in the EU, which could quickly add up for larger developers. could increase.

Epic’s blog post concludes by saying that the developer plans to “continue fighting to bring real competition and choice to iOS devices in Europe and around the world.” Epic’s Wright confirmed that the company has notified the European Commission that Apple has terminated its developer account. “Cognizable non-compliance must be punished quickly and swiftly,” Sweeney said in a briefing.

Screenshots of the three written exchanges with Apple, shared by Epic Games, can be found below:

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