Microsoft enters the Apple vs Fortnite Battle, on Epic’s Side. It’s undoubtedly getting crowded.
To set the scene, Epic owns the Unreal Engine, the very popular game engine used by a number of developers within the mobile and non-mobile realms. Since it’s now suing Apple, Apple’s has threatened to revoke support for the Unreal Engine on iOS and MacOS. This is a part of its attempt to cut off Epic from using Apple’s development tools, for which Epic is looking for an emergency injuction.
Apple later wrote a rather sharp response to this injunction, in which it more or less said that Epic brought this on itself by starting the entire thing. Epic responded with a new court filing today responding to the response, saying it’s not asking Apple to play nice like nothing’s wrong: “Epic does not seek an affirmative order requiring Apple to work with Epic on the Unreal Engine or anything else.” It argues that Apple’s actions are going overboard: “Instead, the breadth of Apple’s retaliation is itself an unlawful effort to maintain its monopoly and chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple.” Here we go again with this dramatic language.
So where does Microsoft fit into all this? The firm today filed a statement in support of Epic, written by Kevin Gammill, General Manager of Xbox’s third-party developers. He makes the case that the Unreal Engine is simply too important a piece of technology for Apple to effectively cut off, because it’s a very accessible piece of tech for fledgling developers to build their games in, and works across a number of platforms. To use his words: “Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS, and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage.”
It is smart that Microsoft would throw in with Epic. After all, the same App Store guidelines that got Fortnite banned also exclude the Xbox Game Pass app and its xCloud streaming capabilities. It would benefit Microsoft immensely if Epic cuts Apple off at the knees, figuratively — that’s an entire new market of potential xCloud customers. Epic’s battle with Apple (and Google) isn’t a philosophical exercise about the relationship between developer and storefront — it’s also a sensible fight over very real money. The similar may very well be stated about Microsoft‘s position, because it has a number of games of its own on iOS that run on Unreal Engine, as Gammill says within the company statement.