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Fortnite Apple row: Microsoft backs Epic in court filing

BBC Technology 24 Aug 2020 10:16
A giant Microsoft logo above a wall screen showing Fortnite being played by a streamer - inside a Microsoft branded storeImage copyright Getty Images

Microsoft has thrown its weight behind Epic Games in a continuing legal battle with Apple.

Apple pulled hugely popular game Fortnite from its App Store after Epic deliberately broke its rules in protest at Apple's policies.

In an escalation, Apple then said it would pull Epic's access to developer tools on iOS and Mac.

But Microsoft said this would damage a "critical technology" for many third-party game creators.

That is because Epic also owns the Unreal Engine - a tool widely used by developers from other studios to build games, virtual-reality VR experiences and special effects in major television shows and films.

Microsoft uses the technology itself.

Marketing push

Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted: "Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for game developers and gamers."

Epic has objected to what it calls a "monopoly" in the App Store - specifically the 30% cut Apple demands from in-game purchases.

Apple, however, says it applies the rules equally and "won't make an exception for Epic because we don't think it's right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers".

Microsoft has also previously criticised Apple's App Store terms.

Earlier this year, when Apple was engaged in another high-profile stand-off with an app developer over its policies, Microsoft's president, Brad Smith, hinted at the company's disapproval.

However, Microsoft also runs the Windows and Xbox stores, where it takes a 15-30% cut of software sales, depending on the platform, according to its developer agreement.

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AppleMicrosoftEpicApp StorePhil Spencer
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