Home   >   News

Apple just revoked Epic's iOS developer account. Again

Despite the EU Digital Markets Act bringing their battle to a close, it looks like the Epic Games Store won't be coming to iOS any time soon…
Apple just revoked Epic's iOS developer account. Again
  • It's a no to an Epic App Store and a triumphant return of Fortnite to iOS any time soon
  • The fallout seems to have been truly personal with Apple's Phil Schiller and Epic's Tim Sweeney slugging it out in a battle that Epic has just taken public

In a surprise twist following Apple's expected drop of the new 'open' Euro-only build of iOS17.4, it appears that Apple has reneged on their previous granting of permissions to Epic to step back onto the platform.

In a blog post published today, Epic has shared communications with Apple, in which the company calls Epic “verifiably untrustworthy” as part of outlining their disbelief that Epic will agree with Apple's new (and rather convoluted) route to getting app stores onto the newly cracked-open Euro remix of iOS.

It's an amazing reversal of fortune after the Fortnite maker publically celebrated the return of their developer licence and return to iOS and made promise of an Epic App Store on the platform (and the return of Fortnite) "later this year".

“Please be advised that Apple has, effective immediately, terminated the Developer Program membership of Epic Games Sweden AB,” states a letter from Apple to Epic dated March 2. 

And rather than talk it over and sort it out, Epic have now taken to X (formerly Twitter) to go public with the news.

How did we get here?

The main thrust of this fresh fallout appears to have arisen from personal communications between Apple's Phil Schiller - Apple Fellow and leader of the App Store - and Epic's CEO Tim Sweeney, during which Schiller asked for Sweeney's "written assurance" that he would comply with Apple's new EU-forced (and reluctantly granted) hurdles and permissions process.

Schiller writes, "You have described our DMA compliance plan as “hot garbage,” a “horror show,” and a “devious new instance of Malicious Compliance.” And you have complained about what you called “Junk Fees” and “Apple taxes.”

“Your colourful criticism of our DMA compliance plan, coupled with Epic’s past practice of intentionally violating contractual provisions with which it disagrees strongly suggests that Epic Sweden does not intend to follow the rules. Another intentional breach could threaten the integrity of the iOS platform as well as the security and privacy of users.”

“You have stated that allowing enrollment of Epic Games Sweden in the Developer Program is “a good faith move by Apple.” We invite you to provide us with written assurance that you are also acting in good faith, and that Epic Games Sweden will, despite your public actions and rhetoric, honor all of its commitments."

“In plain, unqualified terms, please tell us why we should trust Epic this time,” prods Schiller.

Sweeney of course, replies. In short email sent on February 23, two hours after Schiller's mail, Sweeney writes, “Thanks for reaching out. Epic and its subsidiaries are acting in good faith and will comply with all terms of current and future agreements with Apple, and we’ll be glad to provide Apple with any specific further assurances on the topic that you’d like."

However it seems that Sweeney's short and compliant mail wasn't the kind of lengthy, crawl-through-broken-glass grovel that Schiller was looking for.

Too little to late

After mulling on Sweeney's reply for a week Apple's response comes in a letter to Epic's lead attorney Gary Bornstien dated March 2. In it Apple's chief lawer Mark A Perry explains that they “reached out directly to Mr Sweeney to give him an opportunity to explain why Apple should trust Epic this time and allow Epic Games Sweden AB to become an active developer.”

“Mr Sweeney’s response to that request was wholly insufficient and not credible. It boiled down to an unsupported “trust us”.”

“Please be advised that Apple has, effectively immediately, terminated the Developer Program membership of Epic Games Sweden AB.”

Perry then accurately points out that despite the introduction of the Digital Markets Act which aims to reduce such power, “Apple has the contractual right to terminate its DPLA with 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 discretion.”

The last straw

Notoriously not one to roll over, it appears that this was the last straw for Sweeney. Rather than address Apple's worries and bow and scrape he has - after four days of silent pondering with a finger poised on the Tweet button - instead made the spat public at this point and kicked up the same old stink.

All the while still maintaining a desire to get back on the platform. 

"This is a serious violation of the EU’s Digital Markets Act. We will continue to fight to get back on iOS!" Epic write.

Sweeney himself comments, "Apple can crush any of us on a whim, and therefore that competition is futile. It’s a sad slope for the world’s most respected company to be slipping down, but slipping it is, and it’s a long way down."

There is, of course, the option of Epic using an app store that DOES successfully make it through Apple's checks in order to bring games - such as Fortnite - to iOS. But we don't think that's what Sweeney has in mind right now…

More news on the fallout and Apple's response soon.

UPDATE: It looks like the fresh argument has roused the sleepy EU to take action… Get ready for the next round…