Apple has banned Epic Games' developer account again — "In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise" right to terminate account

App Store Iphone 13 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Apple has confirmed it has terminated Epic Games' developer account just weeks after it was reinstated, derailing the Fortnite maker's plans to release the Epic Games Store on iOS. 

In a press release, Epic stated "We recently announced that Apple approved our Epic Games Sweden AB developer account. We intended to use that account to bring the Epic Games Store and Fortnite to iOS devices in Europe thanks to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). To our surprise, Apple has terminated that account and now we cannot develop the Epic Games Store for iOS. This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows Apple has no intention of allowing true competition on iOS devices."

Epic says it was gearing up to deliver the Epic Games Store to iPhone users in the EU following the new Digital Markets Act, which comes into force this week. Epic says that "In terminating Epic’s developer account, Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store,"  and "are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor." 

In a statement to iMore Apple said:

"Epic’s egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate ‘any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.’ In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise that right.”

Why was Epic Games developer account terminated?

Epic Games says that "one of the reasons they terminated our developer account only a few weeks after approving it was because we publicly criticized their proposed DMA compliance plan," specifically citing a post from CEO Tim Sweeney which stated:

Apple leadership faces some massive decisions in the coming weeks as the contradictions between their stated principles and the intended and actual consequences of their present policies are reckoned with: the app store monopoly, the digital goods payments monopoly, the tax, the suppression of true information about competing purchasing options, the blocking of competing web browser engines and outright destruction of web apps.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Apple is a few bold and visionary decisions away from being the company they once were and that they still advertise themselves to be: beloved brand to consumers, partner to developers, and overlord to none.

According to the release "Apple also claims that Epic is a threat to their ecosystem," a reason Epic calls "entirely unjustified." The company says it applied for a developer account "through Apple's official process", with Apple reinstating the developer account a few weeks ago

Epic says it was "transparent" about its intentions with Apple privately and publicly, but was denied a DMA consultation offered by Apple. Epic Games Store GM Steve Allison emailed Craig Federighi on Feb 21 to express Epic's disappointment. Prior to that, on February 16, Allison told Federighi "Epic intends to exercise its rights under the Digital Markets Act to develop and distribute the Epic Games Store as an alternative app marketplace on iOS devices in the EU." 

In a sharp retort, Apple's Phil Schiller noted "Epic has entered into agreement with Apple and then broken them" in the past, noting Sweeney's own testimony that it chose to intentionally breach its agreement with Apple given during the App Store lawsuit. Schiller also highlighted his testimony noting Epic did this "to make a point and for financial gain." He also cited Sweeney's fiery remarks about Apple's compliance with the DMA, where he labeled Apple's plan as "hot garbage." Schiller said Sweeney's "colorful criticism" of the plan and Epic's past practices "strongly suggest" Epic doesn't intend to follow the rules, asking for written assurance. "Please tell us why we should trust Epic this time," he stated. 

Apple told iMore that its right to terminate the account is based on the September 2021 court ruling in the App Store lawsuit Epic filed against Apple. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers stated "Apple has the contractual right to terminate its DPLA with any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.” As such, Apple says there is no further need to justify its decision. However, it did further note Epic has shown itself to be untrustworthy, even in the face of contractual agreement, the same reasons it denied Epic's bid to get its account reinstated in 2021. Apple also confirmed its termination of the Epic Games Sweden account is not limited to the EU, given that both Epic's Fortnite "hotfix" and the the injunction that allows Apple to terminate its account are global. 

The only other piece of correspondence shared is a letter from Apple lawyers stating that Apple has terminated Epic Games' developer account "effective immediately." The letter, sent March 2 to Epic's counsel, said that Tim Sweeney's email dated February 23 was "wholly insufficient and not credible", boiling down to "an unsupported 'trust us'." In his email, Sweeney said Epic was "acting in good faith and will comply with all terms of current and future agreements with Apple." 

Lawyers for Apple said that "Epic is verifiably untrustworthy" and that Sweeney's "minimal assurances" and his "curt response" were undercut by his public attacks on Apple's policies.  

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Epic Games warned that "If Apple maintains its power to kick a third party marketplace off iOS at its sole discretion, no reasonable developer would be willing to utilize a third party app store, because they could be permanently separated from their audience at any time."

This week Apple rolled out iOS 17.4 on iPhone. In the EU, the new software update allows for developers to create alternative app marketplaces to distribute apps outside of the App Store. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • naddy69
    Hey Epic. Here is an idea. Forget about Apple. Sell your games on Android and go away. If you can't follow the terms of a contract THAT YOU SIGNED, then you are not a client that ANYONE would want to do business with.
  • FFR
    Tim Sweeney at epic hq right now.