Apple’s Actions Against Epic Games and Unreal Engine Could Affect PUBG MOBILE, Peacekeeper Elite

The battle between Apple and Epic Games over Fortnite and in-app purchases has gone nuclear after the companies traded lawsuits and threats over a dispute that could impact hundreds of millions of players around the world. The new lawsuit comes after Apple told Epic that it would take actions that would directly affect Unreal Engine 4, Epic’s game development platform.

Epic Games filed a lawsuit Monday in the District Court for the Northern District of California against Apple seeking a temporary restraining order “from removing, de-listing, refusing to list or otherwise making unavailable the app Fortnite, including any update thereof, from the App Store on the basis that Fortnite offers in-app payment processing through means other than Apple’s In-App Purchase.” 

Unreal Engine 4 is used for a number of games including the mobile versions of Konami’s  Pro Evolution Soccer 2019, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Mortal Kombat and Tencent Games’ PUBG MOBILE and Peacekeeper Elite. In addition many of the games in Apple’s own Apple Arcade subscription service would be affected if Unreal Engine was affected. 

In announcing the filing, Epic Games issued the following statement:

“Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and has informed Epic that on Friday, August 28 Apple will terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools. We are asking the court to stop this retaliation.” 

At the heart of this latest court filing is Apple’s plan to revoke Epic’s membership in its developer program on Aug. 28, which according to Epic would be “an existential threat to Unreal Engine” game development code platform used by third-party-developed mobile game makers. This would make it so that users who already have a game installed would be able to continue playing it but would not be able to apply new updates to the software. It would also halt use of Unreal Engine to make and deploy iOS games on Apple’s App Store.

On Monday evening Apple said that Epic could remedy the situation by removing the update from Fortnite:

“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 its statement. “We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store. 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.”

The latest filing follows nearly a week of public sparring between Apple and Epic Games. On Aug. 13 Apple and Google removed the mobile versions of Epic Games’ popular battle royale title Fortnite from their respective stores after it was revealed that the developer had circumvented in-app purchases through an update to the game, allowing the direct sale of in-game currency to users. Epic avoided both Apple’s and Google’s payment systems and the 30% in commissions that they charge for in-game purchases to sell “V-Bucks.” Epic left the option to purchase V-Bucks directly from Apple and Google in-game, but incentivized direct purchases by offering discounts. V-Bucks are sold in blocks and range in price from $4.99 USD for 600 to $99.99 for a block of 13,500.

On the same day the game was removed from both app stores, Epic filed a lawsuit claiming that Apple was engaging in “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices in markets for the distribution of software applications to users of mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, and the processing of consumers’ payments for digital content used within iOS mobile apps.“

Fortnite has 350M users globally across PC, mobile devices, and consoles, according to Epic Games.

Tobias Seck contributed to this article.

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