A cooperative third-person shooter survival game just got very real.
From Ars Technica: “Apple threatens to boot Epic—including Unreal Engine—off Mac and iOS”
Epic wrote in a court filing (PDF) that Apple said its membership in the Developer Program will be terminated as of August 28. According to Epic, Apple’s move threatens not only Fortnite but also every game that uses Unreal Engine: “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 said.
“If your membership is terminated, you may no longer submit apps to the App Store, and your apps still available for distribution will be removed,” the letter said.
According to the filing, Apple informed Epic that upon termination from the program, a lengthy list of tools and features would no longer be available to it, including software development kits (SDKs), application programming interfaces (APIs), and a host of other tools. Epic would also no longer be able to conduct “Engineering efforts to improve hardware and software performance of Unreal Engine on Mac and iOS hardware; optimize Unreal Engine on the Mac for creative workflows, virtual sets and their CI/Build Systems; and adoption and support of ARKit features and future VR features into Unreal Engine by their XR team.”
This would be an existential threat to the Unreal Engine,” Epic said. “The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable.”
My take: When you’ve got them by the APIs and SDKs their hearts and minds will follow. Meanwhile, I’m with friend-of-the-blog Bart Yee, who’s been a step ahead on this story:
There are huge ripples that would affect hundreds or thousands of games and game developers who use Unreal for iOS as their game engine.
It remains to be seen just who the other iOS developers and game publishers will lobby or pushback on: Epic for bringing them into this mess, or Apple for being heavy handed.
I know one thing: Apple has plenty of experience in playing the long game in various litigation brought against them and by them. They know the law very well and have seasoned staff to do the job.