Apple Blocks Epic Games From Using iPhone Tools in Escalation of Feud

When the European Union passed a 2022 law to loosen Apple’s grip on the app economy, Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, began planning to launch a competing app store for developers.

But before that law could go into effect this week, Apple has blocked Epic’s European subsidiary from using iPhone software tools, making it impossible for the game developer to create the Epic Games Store.

In correspondence from Apple to Epic Games, the tech giant said that Epic had shown in the past that it was unwilling to follow Apple’s rules to protect the App Store and that it couldn’t return to the Developer Program that supports it. Apple also objected to Epic’s criticism of Apple’s plans to comply with Europe’s tech competition law.

Apple’s move is the latest salvo in a long-running battle with Epic. In 2020, Epic broke the App Store’s rules by encouraging customers to pay it directly for features in Fortnite. Apple threw Epic out of the App Store, and Epic sued Apple for violating antitrust laws by requiring developers to use its payment system.

With its rejection of Epic’s access to developer tools in Europe, Apple is testing the boundaries of Europe’s tech competition law. The Digital Markets Act, which takes effect Thursday, requires Apple to give app makers alternatives for selling software to iPhone and iPad users, including the ability to use alternative payment systems and competing app stores.

An Apple spokesman said in a statement that “Apple has the right to terminate” any of Epic’s games and that it did so because of Epic’s “egregious breach of its contractual obligations.”

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