Microsoft has thrown its weight behind Epic in the big battle with Apple

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

Recently, Epic dropped a bit of a bombshell by knowingly violating Apple's app store policies, leading to not only its popular game Fortnite being removed from iOS devices, but Epic Games' entire Apple developer fell in jeopardy as well, threatening the Unreal Engine SDK itself.

Epic clearly knew what it was doing, since it had an entire viral marketing campaign prepped for being removed from the Apple app store, while also signing up a very powerful legal team aimed at taking Apple to court, pressing them to remove, or at least alter, their 30 percent cut on in-app purchases for developers on its store.

Today, Microsoft itself joined the fight, issuing a statement in court on why it thinks Apple is being heavy-handed, and how Apple's behavior could threaten Microsoft's own games on iOS, such as Forza Street. Head here to read the full court filing, issued by Microsoft General Manager, Gaming Developer Experiences, Kevin Gammill.

Epic Games' Unreal Engine is critical technology for numerous game creators including Microsoft.(a) Game engines provide creators with a development environment that delivers the necessary graphics, rendering, physics, sound, networking, and other technologies that enable them to build games that run on multiple platforms.(b) Although some large game creators choose to develop their own proprietary game engines, many others, including small and independent game creators, utilize game engines built by and licensed from third parties.(c) Many of these creators do not have the resources or capabilities to build their own game engines and rely on the availability of third-party game engines, while other creators may choose to use third-party game engines to save development costs and utilize already-developed technologies.(d) As a result, Epic's Unreal Engine is one of the most popular third-party game engines available to game creators, and in Microsoft's view there are very few other options available for creators to license with as many features and as much functionality as Unreal Engine across multiple platforms, including iOS.(e) Microsoft has an enterprise-wide, multi-year Unreal Engine license agreement and has invested significant resources and engineer time working with and customizing Unreal Engine for its own games on PC, Xbox consoles, and mobile devices (including iOS devices). For example, Microsoft's racing game Forza Street is currently available on iOS and utilizes Unreal Engine.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.

Microsoft was in its own spat with Apple's gaming policies recently, since the firm blocked Project xCloud on iOS for arguably dumb reasons. With Apple already being investigated by antitrust regulators across the world for its behavior, it'll be interesting to see how Epic's court battle may factor into any future legislation targeting Apple.

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Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!