Sunday, July 21, 2024

Apple Reinstates Epic Games EU Developer Account, Paving the Way for Alternative App Store

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Apple today reversed a decision to shut down Epic Games’ developer account in the European Union, and the account has now been reinstated. In a statement to MacRumors, Apple said that Epic Games has committed to following the rules, allowing Epic Sweden to be reaccepted into the Apple Developer Program.

Following conversations with Epic, they have committed to follow the rules, including our DMA policies. As a result, Epic Sweden AB has been permitted to re-sign the developer agreement and accepted into the Apple Developer Program.

When Apple terminated the ‌Epic Games‌ Sweden developer account earlier this week, it effectively prevented ‌Epic Games‌ from developing an alternative app marketplace for iPhone users in the European Union. Apple claimed that the account had been terminated because ‌Epic Games‌ had previously breached its contractual obligations, and that the court decision in the ‌Epic Games‌ v. Apple legal battle gave it the right to shut down any ‌Epic Games‌ account at any time.

Apple’s Phil Schiller engaged in a conversation with ‌Epic Games‌ CEO Tim Sweeney where he asked Sweeney for written assurance that ‌Epic Games‌ would adhere to the new rules for alternative app marketplaces, but Apple did not feel that Sweeney’s response was thorough enough. Apple claimed that Epic is “verifiably untrustworthy,” with the Cupertino company also citing negative comments from Tim Sweeney about Apple’s Digital Marketplace Act (DMA) compliance.

There was immediate public blowback from Apple’s decision to kill the account, especially because the emails from Apple made it look like the ‌Epic Games‌ account was terminated because of Sweeney’s criticism. From Schiller’s email:

In the past, Epic has entered into agreements with Apple and then broken them. For example, you testified that Epic Games, Inc. entered into the Developer Program with full understanding of its terms, and then chose to intentionally breach the agreement with Apple. You also testified that Epic deliberately violated Apple’s rules, to make a point and forfinancial gain. More recently, 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 colorful criticism of our DMA compliance plan, coupled with Epic’s past practice of intentionally violating contractual provisions with which it disagrees, strongly suggest that Epic Sweden does not intend to follow the rules.

The European Union quickly stepped in and asked Apple for “further explanations” on why it had shut down the EU ‌Epic Games‌ developer account, a move that likely led Apple to reconsider its decision. ‌Epic Games‌ in a statement to MacRumors said that Apple’s response demonstrates that the European Commission plans to act swiftly to enforce the DMA, and that the ‌Epic Games‌ store is coming to Europe.

Apple has told us and committed to the European Commission that they will reinstate our developer account. This sends a strong signal to developers that the European Commission will act swiftly to enforce the Digital Markets Act and hold gatekeepers accountable. We are moving forward as planned to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS in Europe. Onward!

‌Epic Games‌ announced plans for an alternative app marketplace shortly after Apple introduced support for alternative app stores in the iOS 17.4 beta. ‌Epic Games‌ has pledged to bring Fortnite and other games to the ‌iPhone‌ through its own dedicated storefront, but specific timing for the launch of the ‌Epic Games‌ Store for iOS has not yet been provided.

Though ‌Epic Games‌ is working on an alternative app marketplace, the company has criticized Apple’s compliance with the DMA. Sweeney has called Apple’s plan a “devious new instance of Malicious Compliance” and has said that ‌Epic Games‌ will continue to “argue to the courts and regulators that Apple is breaking the law.”

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