Editor's take: When the spat between Epic and Apple first broke out a couple of weeks ago, I said in my report, "Put on your seat belts. Things are about to get ugly." And they have.
Only days after the Apple/Epic war began, Cupertino promised to revoke its rival's developer accounts unless Epic "cured its breaches," referring to Epic's briefly live alternative payment system in Fortnite. The tech titan gave Epic until today, August 28, to step in line, or Unreal Engine developers were finished in the App Store.
A judge issued a restraining order against that action, so Apple backhandedly retaliated against the loss today by featuring Fortnite's battle-royale rival PUBG on the App Store's main page. These features usually include a brief article about the game with links to download it.
Apple framed it as a "sneak peek," but the odds of it being a coincidence seem slim. What's more, PUBG is powered by Unreal Engine 4. Talk about your slap in the face. It just appears to be another jab from Apple to get under Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney's skin.
Up to this point, Epic has mainly played corporate defense by putting up a legal offense, backed by a PR blitz. In addition to the pre-drawn injunctive relief lawsuit it filed immediately following Fortnite's removal, it also sued to prevent the perceived Silicon Valley bully from banning its developers.
Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and has informed Epic that on Friday, August 28 Apple will terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools. We are asking the court to stop this retaliation. Details here: https://t.co/3br1EHmyd8--- Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) August 17, 2020
Earlier this week, a judge granted a preliminary injunction against Apple preventing it from cutting off the Unreal developers. However, in the same ruling, the judge said that Fortnite would remain booted out of the App Store for the time being. Additionally, the Fortnite developer accounts are not listed in the restraining order, so Apple revoked their privileges.
The case and the war are far from over. This week's ruling was only from a preliminary hearing on the restraining orders. The court wants to ensure a fair market between the two companies can function while it hears the lawsuit.
In the meantime, it will not be surprising to see more ugly antics between the two companies as they try to make each other look like the villain, such as Apple's airing of its email war with Sweeney.