Microsoft is backing Epic Games in its dispute with Apple, claiming that the Fortnite developer’s Unreal Engine is critical technology for game creators such as itself.
In a court filing, Microsoft’s general manager for gaming developer experiences Kevin Gammill declared support for Epic Games in its motion for a temporary restraining order against Apple’s plan to cut off the company from iOS and Mac development tools. The move came after Epic Games sued Apple for taking down Fortnite from its App Store.
If Epic Games is denied access to Apple’s development tools, it will not be able to support Unreal Engine on iOS and MacOS, preventing games running on the technology to receive updates that will allow them to work with future versions of Apple’s operating systems.
This will “harm game creators and gamers,” Gammill wrote, which includes Microsoft as it uses the technology in mobile racing title Forza Street. Developers using Unreal Engine will either have to abandon iOS and MacOS, or switch to another game engine, which may be both hard and expensive to do, especially for independent studios.
Gammill’s filing was supported by Xbox chief Phil Spencer through a tweet, where he claimed that allowing Epic Games access to Apple’s development tools is “the right thing.”
Today we filed a statement in support of Epic's request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine. Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer developers & gamers https://t.co/72bLdDkvUx
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 23, 2020
Epic Games vs. Apple
Apple said that it “won’t make an exception for Epic,” and, despite mounting legal pressures, it will not reverse its decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store until the game is updated to comply with its policies. Apple later revealed that Epic Games wanted special treatment from Apple, as evidenced by emails from the developer’s CEO, Tim Sweeney.
Epic Games, meanwhile, launched the #FreeFortnite Cup, a tournament for Fortnite players on all platforms that gives out prizes that make fun of Apple.