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Apple asks to block iOS Unreal Engine development in new court filing

Promotional image from video game shows a man with a rocket launcher jumping away from many explosions.
Enlarge / The artist’s perception of Apple’s perception of Epic seeks to evade punishment for its violation of Apple’s developer agreement regarding. Fortnite.

As the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple moves toward a hearing on Sept. 28, the iPhone maker takes no word and argues against Epic’s request for a preliminary injunction that would result in Fortnite back to the iOS App Store. In a 37-page proposal filed late Tuesday, Apple says it needs to maintain the ability to penalize “one of the most serious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced in any developer.”

“Epic started a fire and poured petrol on it and is now asking this court for emergency assistance in extinguishing it, although Epic can do it itself in an instant by simply complying with the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years, “the movement sounds partial. “Epic is a saboteur, not a martyr.”

Security-centered arguments

Apple’s argument for holding Fortnite from the App Store without change is heavily dependent on arguments about protecting the security of the iPhone. When Apple first created the iOS App Store, it states: “Instead of restoring the Internet, Apple chose instead to create a safe and reliable place for its iPhone customers to find and download apps in the confidence that they will work smoothly and surely with the tap of a finger. “

Epic undermined the secure approach by violating the terms of the contract in its developer agreement and inserting its own direct payment option in the iOS version of Fortnite via a “hotfix” that Apple could not review until it went live. Because of this, Apple says it was not possible to ensure that Epic “had not made changes to the payment system or bypassed the security features of the iPhone or privacy protection” as it normally does.

As it says e.g. Fortnite‘s Direct Payment Option (which remains available and widely used by players who have previously downloaded Fortnite for iOS) is not blocked by iPhone’s built-in parental control restrictions on in-app purchases. “Apple promises its customers that the App Store will be a safe and reliable place for customers to discover and download apps,” the company writes. “By inserting secret and unsolicited functionality into an app, Epic threatens the relationship between Apple and iPhone customers.”

If Epic succeeds in its argument here, Apple warns, there will be nothing to stop other developers from also undermining Apple’s 30 percent cut in in-app purchases. “Epic insists that other developers will not follow its lead because they fear ‘retaliation,'” Apple writes. “But no one will fear Apple’s response if this court announces the injunction Epic seeks and declares that all developers can reject Apple’s rules without consequences, as long as they claim that Apple’s rules are anti – competitive.”

Still running Unreal Engine

Fortnite in addition, Apple also argues that it should retain the right to close all Epic’s iOS developer accounts. This includes the accounts behind the development of Unreal Engine on iOS, which is currently protected by a visitor.

Apple says it will partially shut down all Epic accounts to prevent what it calls a “shell game” of apps being transferred from one developer account to another. But Apple says it’s also because the company now sees Epic’s Unreal Engine as a ‘potential threat’, posing as another potential ‘Trojan horse’, enabling Epic to implement its threats to undermine the App Store and deploy additional unauthorized functions. “

Through Unreal Engine, Apple claims that Epic could “insert malware or other unauthorized features such as alternative direct payment mechanisms” into “the non-Epic apps available in the App Store and rely on Unreal Engine … It’s easy to see that a rogue application that affects the operation of a significant portion of the world’s iPhones, could significantly disrupt local or even worldwide telephony systems as well as wide segments of the Internet itself. “

As far as these allegations of worldwide Internet sabotage via game engine can be taken, Apple’s main point is that it can no longer give Epic the benefit of the doubt as to its iPhone security and iOS contract development obligations. . “Apple is not waiting to be fooled a second time before terminating a subsidiary for the bad deeds of its principals,” the company writes.

Not a monopoly?

The rest of Apple’s movement largely repeats previous arguments that Epic is unlikely to prove its claims that Apple is a monopolist exercising unfair control over the market. The fact that Epic enjoys “alternative means of distributing Fortnite, “from consoles and PCs to Android phones,” present[s] an example of a textbook on services that are ‘reasonably interchangeable’ when used ‘for the same purposes’, “writes Apple.

More than that, though iOS says Apple that Epic has other options for making money Fortnite without paying Apple’s 30 percent fee on in-app purchases. “A developer can generate revenue through advertising, through the sale of physical goods and services, and through a number of other ways that do not result in any commission for Apple,” the company writes, adding that over 80 percent of apps in the Store store use such business models .

Apple also reiterates its position, previously supported by the court, that Epic’s damage in this case is self-inflicted and therefore does not require a preliminary injunction to remedy it. To Epic’s alleged “reputation damage” by being forced from the App Store, Apple notes that “Epic has engaged in a full-scale, pre-planned media flash around its decision to breach the agreement with Apple and create advertising campaigns around the efforts that continue to this day. “If Epic really cared that it would suffer reputational damage from this dispute, it would not be involved in these detailed efforts to make it public.”

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