Over the last week or so, the gaming world has been gripped by the story of Epic Games suing Apple for banning Fortnite, as well as games using Unreal Engine, from the App Store. This came about after Epic Games purposely tried to bypass Apple’s 30% sales tax by offering direct payment in Fortnite. This was likely done on purpose to start this process. Since then, Google has also removed Fortnite from the Play Store but hasn’t appeared to ban games using Unreal Engine.
Microsoft have released a statement supporting Epic Games during their lawsuit with Apple. The statement is an official court statement to support Epic Games‘ motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent Apple from banning the use on Unreal Engine for games developed and iOS and MacOS.
In the statement, Kevin Gammill, the General Manager of Gaming Developer Experiences for Microsoft, states the impact that banning Unreal Engine could have a detrimental affect on game development, specifically games that are already in development using Unreal Engine, including Microsoft‘s own Forza Street which will be available on iOS. Kevin touches on the importance of accessible game engines for most developers, citing lack of resources and money for smaller studios and creators to develop their own engines. Companies such as Capcom have built the RE Engine, EA have their Frostbite engine, but most studios rely on engines such as Unreal Engine and Unity to be able to develop their games.
Although some large game creators choose to develop their own proprietary game engines, many others, including small and independent game creators, utilize game engines built by and licensed from third parties.
Many of these creators do not have the resources or capabilities to build their own game engines and rely on the availability of third-party game engines, while other creators may choose to use third-party game engines to save development costs and utilize already-developed technologies.
Later in the statement, Kevin points out the choice many developers will have to make, whether to abandon their customers who use iOS and MacOS, or use a different engine, such as Unity, which may not suit the needs of the developer and the game itself, but will allow for a multi-platform game to be released. He hit home with the fact that many companies who are in later stages of development, may have to cut their losses and start development over on a new engine, which could be very costly, abandon their customers on Apple, or even end the project altogether because they can’t afford to start over:
Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers. For game creators in the later stages of development utilizing Unreal Engine and targeting the iOS and/or macOS platform, Unreal Engine’s sudden loss of support for iOS and macOS would create significant costs and difficult decisions.
The creator would have significant sunk costs and lost time using Unreal Engine for game creation, and would have to choose between (a) starting development all over with a new game engine, abandoning the iOS and macOS platforms, or ceasing development entirely.
The war between Epic Games and Apple may be far from over, with new developments taking place every day. But it is a very positive sign to see outside companies support Epic Games. Microsoft is a key player in the gaming and media world, so their support, as well as many others, could be vital to Epic Games winning the case.
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