The battle between Apple and Epic Games continues. Apple has announced that they have terminated the developer account Epic used to publish and update their mobile games, such as the now-discontinued Infinity Blade and ARPG Battle Breakers.
Any games by Epic that users have previously downloaded are still playable, but they cannot be re-downloaded if circumstances require the game be reinstalled to correct a technical issue. Apple's statement reads as follows:
We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.
Unsurprisingly, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney disputed the statement on his Twitter feed. "Apple's statement isn't forthright. They chose to terminate Epic's account; they didn't *have* to," he wrote. "Apple suggests we spammed the App Store review process. That's not so. Epic submitted three Fortnite builds: two bug-fix updates, and the Season 4 update with this note."
Food For Thought
From a purely procedural perspective, there is nothing necessarily wrong with Apple's move. But from a public relations perspective, it comes across as a gratuitous and spiteful action, a way for Apple to punish Epic in the wake of the temporary restraining order Epic won earlier this week. While Judge Yvonne Rogers may have "recommended" Epic return to the status quo ante while the case is argued, she cannot compel them to do so. The level of "scorched earth" tactics Apple is willing to embrace with regards to Epic may end up backfiring on them badly.