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Apple threatens nuclear option in Epic battle royale over Fortnite App Store fees

Fortnite developer Epic Games will be thrown off Apple’s developer platforms within two weeks, if it fails to comply with the App Store rules on in-app purchases – a new court filing has revealed.

Last week, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store after Epic attempted to circumnavigate the 30% cut Apple takes for in-app purchases within the game. The company added its own payment method and offered its in-game currency at a cut rate to gamers that used it over Apple’s billing platform. Apple’s response was swift, as was a lawsuit from Epic.

Now, as the dispute escalates, Epic says Apple is threatening to remove its developer tools on iOS and macOS before the end of the month. That would also be disastrous for third-party developers who use the Unreal Engine to create games of their own.

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In a newly-filed court injunction Epic writes: “When Epic sued Apple to break its monopoly on app stores and in-app payments, Apple retaliated ferociously.

“It told Epic that by August 28, Apple will cut off Epic’s access to all development tools necessary to create software for Apple’s platforms—including for the Unreal Engine Epic offers to third-party developers, which Apple has never claimed violated any Apple policy.”

In a letter to Epic, Apple itself says: “Upon further review of the activity associated with your Apple Developer Program membership, we have identified several violations of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement. Therefore, your Apple Developer Program account will be terminated if the violations set forth below are not cured within 14 days.”

The company said this termination would prevent Epic from submitting apps for the App Store, while all titles already on the store would be removed too.

The unprecedented dispute has also seen Google remove one of the most popular games in history from the Google Play Store, citing the same concerns as Apple. The battle could arguably change the app stores as we know them with Epic campaigning to give developers the option of setting up rival stores.

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