Microsoft backs Epic Games against Apple as #FreeFortnite campaign rumbles on

The long-standing rivalry between Microsoft and Apple seems to have earned Epic Games a new ally in its #FreeFortnite

In a surprise move, Microsoft has issued a statement in support of Epic Games and arguing that they should not be denied access to Apple’s development tools – which would in turn affect support for Unreal Engine on iOS.

Microsoft isn’t suing Apple but they have issued a legal statement that emphasises the importance of Unreal Engine to other companies and argues that Epic should be allowed to keep supporting it even during the current legal battle.

Epic doesn’t appear to have asked Microsoft to issue the statement, but it’s been deemed important enough that Xbox boss Phil Spencer tweeted it out himself.

‘Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS, and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage,’ reads Microsoft’s statement.

‘Because iOS is a large and growing market for games, Apple’s discontinuation of Unreal Engine’s ability to support iOS will be a material disadvantage for the Unreal Engine in future decisions by Microsoft and other game creators as to the choice of an engine for new games.

‘Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.’

Epic Games is currently suing both Apple and Google for not allowing them to set-up their own in-app store, which would have enabled them to circumvent the 30% cut of all in-app sales which both companies currently demand.

Although, as Apple has pointed out, Epic Games is similarly restrictive about how other developers use Unreal Engine, and, according to Apple, initially asked for special treatment – rather than trying to open up the app store for everyone.

As a result, Fortnite has been removed from both app stores, something which Epic clearly knew would happen as they immediately released a short film mocking Apple for its stance and promoting the #FreeFortnite concept.

Epic has been criticised for trying to weaponise its fanbase, especially after it ran a #FreeFortnite Cup at the weekend, despite the fact that it’s many younger fans will have no idea about the lawsuit.

Apple are obviously a long-standing rival of Microsoft but it’s still surprising that they would choose to get involved, although this statement may be the limit of what they can do to help.

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