Microsoft backs Epic Games in fight over Apple’s App Store fees

Microsoft has joined “Fortnite” developer Epic Games in its battle against Apple over app fees.

The software giant co-founded by Bill Gates said in a Sunday court filing that Apple’s threat to cut off Epic from its developer tools later this week would hurt not only Microsoft’s gaming business, but that of other companies as well.

Apple threatened the punishment after Epic introduced a new payment system within Fortnite which would have allowed it to get around the 30-percent cut that the iPhone-maker’s App Store takes from all in-app revenue.

Epic losing developer tools would create a ripple effect across the mobile game industry, as Epic also makes the Unreal Engine, a tool that other game developers use to power their three-dimensional graphics. The tool is also used by millions of other developers, including medical imaging companies and car designers, Epic has said.

Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager of gaming developer experiences, said the company has an “enterprise-wide” license to Unreal Engine and that Apple’s move would hamper it and other gaming firms’ ability to make games with the technology for Macs and iPhones.

“If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS or macOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine when preparing to develop new games,” Gammill wrote.

Nicholas Penwarden, Epic’s vice president of engineering, said in filing on Sunday that multiple Unreal Engine users — including at least one automotive design firm — have contacted the company with worries their projects will be disrupted.

Epic last week asked a judge to prevent any retaliatory action from Apple, arguing that they would “‘break’ Fortnite for millions of existing players.”

Apple, for its part, has argued that “Fortnite”‘s problem is entirely of its own creation. It plans to cut off Epic’s access to its developer tools on Friday.

“The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers,” Apple said in a statement. “We 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.”

With Post wires.

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