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Microsoft Supports Epic Games' Fortnite Lawsuit Against Competitor Apple

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Phil Spencer tweeted on the behalf of Microsoft today supporting Epic Games' request to keep access to Apple IOS and Mac development tools while their suit over payment practices in Fortnite is ongoing. Microsoft and Apple have been industry rivals in computer hardware for decades, but their rivalry is looking to grow as Apple continues to carve out a bigger place in gaming for itself.

Last week, Epic changed how their in-app payments were being handled for Fortnite on the Apple app store. It bypassed Apple's 30 percent fees, thus breaking app store policies and breaching their contract. Apple responded by quickly taking Fortnite off the app store completely. Epic then revealed their already prepared suit against Apple's "monopolistic" practices and a parody of the company's famous 1984 ad. However, Apple has since announced that Epic will lose access to all of their Mac and IOS development tools on August 28, which won't just affect Fortnite, but also their very popular and widely used Unreal Engine. Epic has claimed that losing those tools would cause irreparable harm to it and the Unreal Engine, even if only for the duration of their initial lawsuit.

On Twitter today, Phil Spencer revealed a legal document showing a declaration of support for Epic Games from Microsoft General Manager of Gaming Developer Experiences Kevin Gammill. This document expresses Microsoft's support of Epic's motion to maintain access to Apple development tools while their Fortnite lawsuit is ongoing. The document reaffirms to the court how important the Unreal Engine is to Microsoft and many other developers, stating:

It also exists as proof to Epic's claim that losing the developer tools during their suit would cause irreparable harm to their business, as the document says, "If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS or macOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine when preparing to develop new games." Gammill goes on to explain exactly how that possible decision would play out with the Unreal Engine losing most if not all of its business and industry trust. The declaration also touches on how the loss of the Unreal Engine would also hurt all the apps on IOS or Mac that use the engine and would cause those companies irreparable harm when they could no longer update or change their games.

This is a potentially huge win for Epic, as one of the largest companies in the world backing its claim of irreparable harm will surely make an impact on how its case is handled moving ahead. However, this doesn't mean that Microsoft necessarily supports their initial grievances over payment practices. Microsoft, like many game developers, rely on the Unreal Engine and don't want to lose that valuable tool to Apple twisting the knife. The only reason it stepped into this legal battle was because it involved developer tools, elsewise it would have also stepped to help with Epic's other lawsuit against Google for the same payment practices.



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