Apple Strikes Lethal Blow in Escalating App Store War with Epic Games

The long-running battle between tech titans Apple and Epic Games over 50 euro cents app store fees and policies has taken an explosive new turn.

Epic has accused Apple of terminating its Epic Games Sweden AB developer account, a move Epic calls “a serious violation of the DMA” and Apple’s “open retaliation” for Epic’s criticism of the iPhone maker’s practices.

The termination appears to be a major escalation in the feud that could jeopardise Epic’s plans to bring its popular Fortnite game and its own third-party app store to iOS devices in the European Union under the new Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulations.

Apple VS Epic Games

Accusation of Retaliation for Criticism

Just weeks ago, Epic triumphantly announced “Dev account secured, let’s go!” after saying Apple had approved the Sweden-based account that would allow it to bypass the App Store and distribute software directly to European users.

But in a shocking reversal, Epic says Apple’s lawyers sent a letter abruptly terminating the account.

“Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store. They are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor and showing other developers what happens when you try to compete or are critical of Apple’s unfair practices,” Epic stated bluntly on its blog.

The move seems to be retaliatory, with Epic alleging one of Apple’s cited reasons was Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s public criticism of Apple’s proposed DMA compliance plan as “hot garbage” and “a new instance of malicious compliance” with “junk fees.”

Trust Issues Cited

In a written email dated February 23, 2024, Apple’s Phil Schiller had demanded Epic provide “written assurance” it would “honour all of its commitments” and asked “why we should trust Epic at this time” given its past actions like deliberately violating Apple’s rules in 2020 to bypass the App Store cut.

Sweeney said he told Schiller Epic would comply with any agreements, only for Apple’s lawyers to terminate the account a week later, citing his “litany of public attacks” and suspicion Epic would use the account improperly.

Huge Implications for Mobile Software Distribution

The implications are huge. Epic accused Apple of “killing Epic here as a competitor to the App Store” in a “super egregious” way, calling it the acts of a “mediaeval feudal lord.” It plans to inform the European Commission that Apple appears to be openly defying the DMA’s intent of allowing true competition.

Whereas Apple says that it banned the account because Tim Sweeney publicly criticised their DMA Compliance plan with this tweet below:

Apple also says that the termination is legally justified given court rulings letting it cut ties with Epic “at Apple’s sole discretion” after Epic’s “egregious” past breaches and claims Epic remains “verifiably untrustworthy.”

With both sides digging in, it’s clear this latest showdown is just the beginning of an even more bitter battle over the future of mobile software distribution and Apple’s iron grip over iOS.

Developers and consumers alike are watching to see who will emerge victorious in this clash of tech titans.

Stefan Larson
Stefan Larson

Stefan Larson is an experienced data journalist who brings numbers to life through compelling stories and visualizations. He holds a Master's degree in Statistics and previously worked as a data analyst, helping make sense of complex datasets for reporters and readers. When he's not digging into data and uncovering insights, you can find Stefan taking long walks with his beloved dog Rosie.