The ongoing spat between Epic Games and Apple is picking up steam with the former even hosting a 'FreeFortnite' tournament. This is in response to the Cupertino giant threatening to cut off the developer's access to iOS and macOS developer tools, a move which also threatens the Unreal Engine SDK.
In the latest development in this court battle, Microsoft has now announced that it is supporting Epic Games' stance.
Kevin Gammill, General Manager of Gaming Developer Experiences for Microsoft, has issued a legal statement claiming that Apple's moves against Epic's Unreal Engine do not only harm developers which utilize this to build multi-platform games, but Microsoft's own Forza Street title - which uses Unreal Engine - on iOS as well.
An excerpt from the filing reads:
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.
(a) Developing a game using different game engines for different platforms may be prohibitively expensive and difficult. In any event, it is not as cost-effective as using a game engine that supports different platforms.
(b) As a result, game creators, including Microsoft, that are preparing to develop a game targeted at multiple platforms generally choose game engines based both on the functionality they provide as well as their ability to support development for those platforms.
(c) If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS or macOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine when preparing to develop new games.
(d) 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.
(e) Even uncertainty about the Unreal Engine’s ability to continue supporting iOS and macOS will make it less likely for Microsoft (and, I believe, other game creators) to select Unreal Engine for their projects. When game creators are planning development projects, which can last for years, it is important to have confidence that the chosen engine will continue to be available on and support all platforms on which the game creators plan to distribute their games.
Microsoft's support for Epic Games isn't surprising considering that the company is fighting with the Cupertino firm on another front, trying to get xCloud available on the App Store. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft's statement will strengthen Epic Games' stance from a legal standpoint, but for now, Apple doesn't seem to be backing down.