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Microsoft backs Epic Games in (part of the) fight against Apple

Microsoft has filed a statement in support of Epic Games after Apple has threatened to pull SDK access for Epic’s Unreal Engine.

“Today we filed a statement in support of Epic’s request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine,” Xbox head Phil Spencer wrote on Twitter. “Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer developers & gamers.”

If you’re a little confused, here’s the TL;DR: first, Epic introduced a new, direct payment system for Fortnite V-Bucks that bypassed both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store platforms. Both publishers responded by removing Fortnite from their ecosystems. Epic has sued both companies over their actions, and Apple has responded in kind by threatening to remove Apple SDK access for Epic’s popular Unreal Engine, thereby putting countless developers who use the technology at risk. Got all that?

“Epic Games’ Unreal Engine is critical technology for numerous game creators including Microsoft,” Microsoft’s full statment begins. “It also raises the issue that many independent games studios lack the resources to build their own engines and have to wholly rely on third-party software.

“As a result, Epic’s Unreal Engine is one of the most popular third-party game engines available to game creators, and in Microsoft’s view there are very few other options available for creators to license with as many features and as much functionality as Unreal Engine across multiple platforms, including iOS.

“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.

“Because iOS is a large and growing market for games, Apple’s discontinuation of Unreal Engine’s ability to support iOS will be a material disadvantage for the Unreal Engine in future decisions by Microsoft and other game creators as to the choice of an engine for new games.

“Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.”

We’ll keep you informed as this situation progresses.

About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.