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Microsoft defends Fortnite maker in Apple fight

By AFP - Aug 24,2020 - Last updated at Aug 24,2020

NEW YORK — Microsoft came to the defence of the maker of video game sensation Fortnite on Sunday, saying in a court filing that Apple’s moves to cut off the company from programming tools would hurt other game creators and players as well.

Epic Games is locked in a legal battle with Apple after trying to dodge commission payments due to the tech giant, prompting the iPhone maker to pull Fortnite from its online store.

Apple also threatened to cut off Epic’s access to its programming tools needed to maintain “Unreal Engine”, a software platform that was developed by Epic and which is used by many video game studios to create graphics.

In a filing to the California court handling the case between Epic and Apple, a Microsoft manager said Unreal Engine “is critical technology for numerous game creators including Microsoft”.

“Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers,” wrote Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager of gaming developer experiences.

Apple has alleged that the Fortnite maker deserves to lose its access to the programming tools because it violated the terms of their contract.

At the heart of the fight is the 30 per cent that Apple takes on the revenue generated by companies to distribute their apps through its online store.

Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple last week after the tech giant took Fortnite off its App Store for releasing an update that dodges revenue sharing.

The latest version contains a payment system that lets player transactions bypass the App Store, preventing Cupertino-based Apple from collecting its typical 30 per cent cut.

 

‘FreeFortnite’ 

taunts Apple

 

The maker of video game sensation Fortnite is taunting Apple amid its legal battle with the tech titan, launching a tournament on Sunday to highlight its war on the App Store fee policy.

“All of your friends. Awesome prizes. And one bad apple,” Epic Games said in a post on its website.

The “FreeFortnite Cup” is free to enter and prizes include a virtual “Tart Tycoon” outfit featuring an apple head, sunglasses and condescending frown.

Players with top scores in each of the game’s 20,000 regions around the world will be sent caps with a “Free Fortnite” logo playing off of Apple’s iconic symbol, Epic said.

Epic also encouraged players to express their displeasure with Apple on Twitter using the #FreeFortnite hashtag.

Fortnite players on Apple mobile devices won’t be able to access a new season of the game, set to launch August 27 with a software update, because the app has been removed from Apple’s App Store.

“These are the final days of the entire Fortnite community’s ability to play together,” Epic said.

 

Self-inflicted wound?

 

Epic has asked a judge to make Apple put Fortnite back in the App Store until the matter is resolved in court.

Apple on Friday voiced its opposition to such an emergency order, arguing in a legal filing that Epic’s situation is a “self-inflicted wound” that could be remedied by updating Fortnite to stop bypassing the App Store payment system.

“Epic made a deliberate choice to cheat Apple,” it said.

“Having decided that it would rather enjoy the benefits of the App Store without paying for them, Epic has breached its contracts with Apple, using its own customers and Apple’s users as leverage.”

Epic has executed a carefully orchestrated campaign, complete with a parody video, merchandise, hashtag, belligerent tweets and legal action, Apple contended.

Apple does not allow users of its popular devices to download apps from anywhere, but its App Store, prompting critics to argue it wields monopoly power.

The tech giant has also notified Epic it will cut off access to tools needed to tailor software for devices powered by its operating systems, according to a request by the game maker for a temporary restraining order.

Without those tools, Epic will not be able to create iPhone, iPad or Mac computer versions of its widely used Unreal Engine for powering rich graphics.

Gamers can still play Fortnite on Apple mobile devices, but will not receive updates because those need to come through the App Store.

Epic reminded players they can access the latest versions of Fortnite on personal computers, video game consoles and Android-powered mobile devices. 

It is giving away 1,200 pieces of gaming hardware as prizes in the Sunday tournament.

“Just because you can’t play on iOS doesn’t mean there aren’t other awesome places to play Fortnite,” Epic told fans.

 

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