Since Epic filed suit against Apple last week over the removal of Fortnite from the App Store, the battle has heated up for beyond what we expected in a single week. As it turns out, Epic's CEO, Tim Sweeney, tried to discuss the company's goals with Apple ahead of the move. He sent an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an attempt to explain why opening the platform would be good for everyone. In his email he said,
Please confirm within two weeks if Apple agrees in principle to allow Epic to provide a competing app store and competing payment processing, in which case we will meet with your team to work out the details including Epic's firm commitment to utilize any such features diligently to protect device security, customer privacy, and a high-quality user experience. If we do not receive your confirmation, we will understand that Apple is not willing to make the changes necessary to allow us to provide Android customers with the option of choosing their app store and payment processing system.
When Apple did not respond to the requests, he sent another email, this time laying out his plans for the future of Epic and Apple's relationship. In it, he said,
Today, Epic is launching Epic direct payments in Fortnite on iOS, offering customers the choice of paying in-app through Epic direct payments or through Apple payments, and passing on the savings of Epic direct payments to customers in the form of lower prices.
So, Apple had a heads up about the fact that Epic was about to break protocol, which is likely why the game was so quickly removed from the App Store. But, Apple has taken the challenge further than just removing Fortnite from the store. They have threatened to remove Epic's developer license, which threatens more than just Epic. If the company cannot build and deploy for Apple devices, an entire ecosystem of games for iOS and macOS will lose access to the Unreal Engine, one of the most popular game engines in the world. This would mean that a wide variety of games would have to be abandoned or rewritten before users could ever get another update.
This move, however, plays directly into Epic's narrative about Tim Cook's Apple - it's all about money regardless of the user experience, something that Steve Jobs would be pissed about. Tim Cook has continued to defend the company's position, going so far as to say that Epic's move was tantamount to shoplifting.
Epic has been building a coalition, though. This group of supporters come in a wide variety, including news publishers like The New York Times and The Washington Post to developers like Microsoft. Microsoft even filed an official letter of support to the court. The company already took a stand against Apple a few weeks ago, so it is no surprise that it would join forces with a partner to show support. They said,
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.
And, just like you would expect from Epic, they have continued to taunt Apple publicly. First, they released an asset pack featuring the logo at the top of this article, which is intended for people to be able to print their own shirts and hats. It is a llama, something associated with Fortnite in a color pallette similar to the old Apple logo with "Free Fortnite." written a font similar to Apple's old slogan. That asset pack also comes along with a tournament, the #FreeFortnite Cup, which is awarding Android phones as a prize.
There are a lot of ways this could go, but however it ends up, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.