Apple says it has terminated the developer account that Epic Games used to publish and update App Store games.
The move means Epic games like mobile RPG Battle Breakers are no longer available for download on the iOS App Store, sharing the same fate Fortnite has faced for weeks now. Users that have previously downloaded defunct Epic Games titles like Infinity Blade will still be able to play them, but they can no longer be re-downloaded or make use of any previously available in-app purchases.
Epic’s iOS app updates are also cut off, meaning iOS Fortnite players are stuck without access to the Marvel-themed content that was recently added to the game. Fortnite players on iOS are also currently unable to enjoy crossplay with players using the latest version on other platforms.
In a statement provided to the press, Apple once again cited Epic’s attempt to go around the default iOS payment platform for Fortnite as the root cause of the issue:
We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused.
Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to dispute Apple’s characterization of its actions surrounding Fortnite. “They chose to terminate Epic’s account,” Sweeny wrote. “They didn’t *have* to.”
Sweeney also took issue with Apple’s suggestion that the company “repeatedly” submitted updates violating the App Store rules. The most recent Fortnite update, Sweeney said, was submitted to Apple with the option for Epic Direct Payments intact “in case Apple wishes to restore Fortnite to the App Store in time for Season 4 launch.”
Apple is also telling CNBC that Epic has been directing frustrated users to contact AppleCare for support, leading to “refund quality issues and support problems for Apple users around the world,” as CNBC puts it.
Apple’s decision to bar Epic’s App Store account shouldn’t affect the development of Unreal Engine for iOS. Epic International uses a separate account governed by a separate contract for that development, and that account was recently protected from Apple’s planned retaliation by a federal judge’s restraining order.
Elsewhere online, the official Apple App Store Twitter account today took the opportunity to promote PUBG Mobile, a major competitor to Fortnite in the battle royale genre. In a wry reaction to that move, Sweeney retweeted Apple’s promotional tweet while noting that PUBG is “another awesome battle royale game powered by Unreal Engine!”