Microsoft Files Statement In Support of Epic Against Apple

Published: August 23, 2020 2:14 PM /


Court Room

The legal action between Epic and Apple continues to heat up, as Microsoft has now weighed in on the latest proceedings with a letter of support with the court.

The letter doesn't address the main lawsuit, and instead is supporting Epic Games' request for an injunction against Apple suspending their access to the Apple SDK, which would stop them from being able to maintain Unreal Engine for iOS. This is the point that Microsoft addresses in Game Developer Experience General Manager Kevin Gammill's four-page statement of support, which was filed today with the court.

In the statement Gammill explains that Microsoft, and many other companies make use of Unreal Engine and that the loss of support for it would impact products already released, as well as those in development, and gamers. In regards to games in development Gammill states,

For game creators in the later stages of development utilizing Unreal Engine and targeting the iOS and/or macOS platform, Unreal Engine’s sudden loss of support for iOS and macOS would create significant costs and difficult decisions. The creator would have significant sunk costs and lost time using Unreal Engine for game creation, and would have to choose between (a) starting development all over with a new game engine, (b) abandoning the iOS and macOS platforms, or (c) ceasing development entirely. 

As for products already released, Gammill explains that it could increase the risk of vulnerabilities, and make work harder for developers.

Apple’s removal of Unreal Engine’s ability to develop updates and improvements for iOS and macOS could also harm already-launched iOS and macOS games built on Unreal Engine. If the game engine can no longer develop updates that take advantage of new iOS or macOS features, fix software bugs, or patch security flaws, this will harm games that have already launched on iOS and macOS (and, in turn, harm gamers). In addition, this situation could bifurcate a game’s player base, such that gamers on iOS or macOS cannot play or communicate with friends or family who are playing on other platforms. 

What impact this will have on the court, and their decision whether or note to grant the injunction is unknown. It is worth noting that at no point in the statement does Microsoft reference Fortnite, either in regards to its part of the injunction, or the larger lawsuit overall. Microsoft is keeping this purely about Unreal Engine here.

You can read the full statement here.

Quick Take

Epic Games took a rare step when it effectively declared ware on Apple and it torched the earth behind it. Apple has responded with a similar scorched earth response, and with Unreal Engine's place in the market it could create a lot of harm to developers and gamers. Microsoft here isn't weighing in on the larger debate, but is essentially arguing that the amount of collateral damage done by banning Unreal Engine would be signficant. 

A point not brought up by Microsoft is that the loss of developers on Unreal Engine as they work on other platforms if they can't release effectively on iOS would be very hard for Epic Games to make up at any point, arguably irreparable harm done by kicking them off as it would make developers invest in other ecosystems both time and moneywise. 

The fireworks for this case are far from over, as with two stubborn CEOs, including one who heads a private company that he has a majority share of, some of the normal expectations on a legal battle like this are out the door. This wasn't a fight Epic Games needed to fight, nor is it one that likely a public company would have (think about the millions of dollars lost each day in iOS revenue), but its become one that it needs to at least partially win now, or else both of its golden geese may end up laying a few less eggs then expected. 

What do you think of Microsoft supporting Epic Games? Do you agree with them? Let us know in the comments below!


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