And a Shot Flies Across Spotify’s Bow: Apple Terminates Epic Games’ Developer Account—Says It’s ‘Untrustworthy’

Apple terminates Epic Games developer account
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Apple terminates Epic Games developer account
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Photo Credit: Jonas Vandermeiren

Just a few weeks after Epic Games announced its plans to bring Fortnite back to the iPhone in Europe via the Digital Markets Act—Apple terminated the developer account. Apple calls Epic Games “untrustworthy” and a “threat” to the iOS ecosystem.

“Apple has terminated [Epic Games Sweden AB developer account] and now we cannot develop the Epic Games Store for iOS,” reads a blog post from the game developer. “This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows Apple has no intention of allowing true competition on iOS devices.”

Epic Games goes on to argue that Apple is in direct violation of the part of the DMA that requires platform operators called gatekeepers in the legislation to “enable the effective use of third-party software applications or software application stores.”

“In terminating Epic’s developer account, Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store,” the post continues. “They are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor and they are showing other developers what happens when you try to compete with Apple or are critical of their unfair practices.”

Epic Games also claims the move is retaliatory in nature because the company criticized Apple’s business practices publicly. In a letter sent to Epic Games, Apple exec Phil Schiller writes, “In the past, Epic has entered into agreements with Apple and then broken them. You also testified that Epic deliberately violated Apple’s rules, to make a point and for financial gain.”

“More recently, you have described our DMA compliance as ‘hot garbage,’ a ‘horror show,’ and a ‘devious new instance of malicious compliance.’ And you have complained about what you call ‘junk fees’ and ‘Apple taxes.’” Schiller continues that Epic’s past actions “strongly suggests that Epic Sweden does not intend to follow the rules. In plain, unqualified terms, please tell us why we should trust Epic at this time.”

Apple issued its own statement after Epic broke the news, reiterating points that Schiller made in his letter to Epic.

“Epic’s egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate ‘any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discrection.’ In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple choice to exercise that right.”

Apple also notes that Epic Games Sweden entered into the developer program through a click-through agreement, with no one at the executive level approving the new business entity.