As two heavyweights in the tech industry square off in court, Microsoft has entered a statement of support for unreal engine. As a client of the unreal engine and also a publisher of games on iOS, Microsofts position here is unique.
To understand why they have stepped in to this fray we need to take a step back and look at the short history of this spat. A couple of weeks ago Epic Games inserted a direct payment option for their currency Vbucks into the iOS game, circumventing the app stores 30% cut and providing a discount for players. Apple in turn removed Fortnite from the app store and also removed support for unreal engine from the apple SDKs, the tools that allow developers on unreal to stay up to date with iOS and keep their games and apps safe.
Its important to note that while Epic made the Fortnite game and the Unreal engine, technically there are 2 accounts for different companies at play here. One account runs the Fortnite game service while the other runs the Unreal engine for various platforms and requests these SDKs to distribute to developers in engine updates for their clients to use and make games with. Apple’s main argument is that if one account breaks the rules that its as good as both breaking the rules and has revoked access to both accounts. Epic is suing Apple to stop this and reverse the block on the Unreal Engine. Microsoft is stuck in the middle but is supporting Unreal and the case to get Unreal access to the Apple SDK.
Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will preventQuote from General Manager of Gaming Developer Experiences at Microsoft
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
Microsoft already has a game at risk in this situation: Forza Street for iOS. This means that at the next iOS update Microsoft cannot properly update the game to keep up with iOS.
Luckily for Unreal and Microsoft a federal judge appears to be siding with the engine arm of Epic but the future of the Fortnite direct payment system is a little more cloudy.
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