Apple Denies Epic Games the Ability to Create an iOS App Store in the EU

Epic Games’ plans to establish proprietary app store for iOS in the EU was crippled as Apple blocked the developer’s account of the company. Epic Games shared a letter that it received from Apple’s legal team labeling them as ‘unreliable’.

The March 2nd notice reads, “Please note from this point forward, Apple is discontinuing Epic Games Sweden AB’s participation in the Apple Developer Program“. The letter stresses the company’s right to terminate the licensing agreement unilaterally, as per its discretion.

Apple’s Plans and Epic Games’ Reactions

In response to Apple’s moved to allow third-party app stores for iOS in Europe, Epic Games planned to launch their own game store on iOS and reincarnate Fortnite on the platform after its removal in 2020. On February 16, Epic announced that Apple had unblocked their Epic Games Sweden developer account; it was previously blocked along with Fortnite’s expulsion from the App Store.

On February 23, the head of the App Store, Phil Schiller, demanded “written assurances” in an email to Epic’s CEO, Tim Sweeney. He insisted that Epic Games fulfill its “commitments” and recalled its violation of the licensing agreement in 2020 by adding support for third-party payments in Fortnite on iOS. Sweeney countered saying that Epic and its subsidiaries act in good faith, will respect all present and future agreements with Apple and are ready to provide all necessary guarantees on any issues.

Epic Games' own app store for iOS comes under threat

Apple’s Legal Escalation and Epic’s Rebuttal

On March 2, Apple’s attorneys conveyed to Epic that the developer account was being terminated due to past violations. The lawyers reasoned, “Previously, Epic has violated the terms of the Apple Developer Program as well as its licensing agreement. Given the aforementioned, Apple addressed Mr. Sweeney directly for explanations as to why we should trust Epic Games Sweden AB and allow her to participate in the development program. Mr. Sweeney’s response was deemed insufficient and untrustworthy.”

Through a press briefing, Sweeney revealed that Epic received no communications from Apple between Phil Schiller’s email and the lawyers’ letter, and professed his readiness to provide “any guarantees” they would want to respect the contractual agreement. When asked if Epic intends to comply with Apple’s developer terms despite intense public criticism of its policies, Sweeney responded, “Yes, absolutely“.

Accusations and Future Commitments

In a blog post, Epic accused Apple of “eliminating one of Apple App Store’s most significant potential competitors,” “undermining [its] ability to be a viable competitor” and showing other developers the consequences of competing with or criticizing Apple’s unfair practices. Despite its current setback, Epic emphasized its commitment to fighting for fair competition on iOS devices in Europe and around the globe.

Regardless of Apple’s suspension of the developer account, Epic’s CEO hinted during a briefing that Fortnite could still be reintroduced on iOS through a third-party app store by another company within the European Union.

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