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Fortnite's Return To iOS In Europe Takes A Step Forward After Apple's Recent Epic Ban

The Fortnite developer planned to launch its game store on the European iOS platform this month.


Update: Epic says Apple has agreed to reinstate its developer account and says it is moving forward with its plans to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS in Europe. "This sends a strong signal to developers that the European Commission will act swiftly to enforce the Digital Markets Act and hold gatekeepers accountable," Epic wrote in an update.

In a statement, Apple said that following conversations with Epic and assurances that the Fortnite developer would commit to following its rules, Epic Sweden AB was permitted to re-sign the developer agreement and was then accepted into the Apple Developer Program.

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Original story follows below.

Ahead of its intended return to iOS this month in Europe, Epic's plans to build and release its own app store on that platform have been derailed after Apple terminated its developer account. Back in February, Epic had been granted a developer account that would have allowed it to launch its app store and sidestep Apple's 30% platform fees, thanks to European Union regulation and the new Digital Markets Act.

Earlier this week, Epic claimed in a blog post that Apple had pulled the plug on its developer account. Epic shared a letter from Apple's lawyers that described Epic as "verifiably untrustworthy," pointing to things like Epic's ongoing litigation against Apple and past circumvention of its rules.

"This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows Apple has no intention of allowing true competition on iOS devices," Epic wrote. "In terminating Epic's developer account, Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store. They are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor and they are showing other developers what happens when you try to compete with Apple or are critical of their unfair practices."

In response to Epic, Apple says that it is legally allowed to terminate Epic's account based on a September 2021 judgment, not needing any special circumstances to do so.

"Epic's egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate 'any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games' control at any time and at Apple's sole discretion,'" Apple said in a statement. "In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise that right."

Epic first announced its plans to return to iOS in January. The new DMA legislation is aimed at big companies like Apple and Microsoft and effectively levels the playing field by creating a more competitive environment, and this act went into effect this week. The EU has confirmed that it is investigating Apple's decision to cancel Epic's developer account.

"We have requested further explanations on this from Apple under the DMA," a European Commission spokesperson told Reuters. "We are also evaluating whether Apple's actions raise doubts on their compliance with the DSA (Digital Services Act) and the P2B (Platform to Business Regulation), given the links between the developer program membership and the App Store as designated VLOP (very large online platform)."

It appears that Epic was granted a developer account in Europe without it being reviewed by Apple executives, setting up the subsequent retraction. Epic noted that among the reasons cited by Apple was public criticism of its DMA compliance plan, pointing to a Twitter thread in which Epic CEO Tim Sweeney discussed Apple's "contradictions."

Darryn Bonthuys on Google+

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