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Microsoft has chosen a side in the Epic vs Apple App Store spat

Microsoft is backing Fortnite developer Epic Games in its ongoing skirmish with Apple over App Store fees.

The Xbox maker says developers will be placed at a substantial disadvantage if Apple, as planned, removes Epic’s access to iOS and macOS development tools, including the Unreal Engine used by many third-party developers to build games.

In a court filing in support of Epic’s efforts to temporarily prevent Apple going nuclear, Microsoft says the removal of Unreal Engine would “create significant costs and difficult decisions” for developers already working on games, while restricting their ability to provide updates for existing titles.

The filing from Kevin Gammill, the GM of Gaming Developer Experiences at Microsoft in-part reads: “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.”

“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.”

You can read the full filing here. And here’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer’s take:

In case you haven’t been following, Epic started a war with Apple by adding a separate payment method for Fortnite’s in-app currency. That attempted to by-pass App Store rules that guarantee Apple a 30% cut of everything sold in-app.

Apple responded by promptly removing Fortnite – one of the App Store’s most popular games – almost immediately and then threatening to remove Epic’s access to all developer tools on Apple platforms at the end of this month.

Epic is attempting to prevent Apple doing so, while the pair work out the dispute. However, it has continued to poke the bear by stirring-up anti-Apple sentiment through themed Fortnite tournaments and an ad that mocks Apple’s famous 1984 Big Brother commercial.