Apple threatens to withhold support for ARKit and upcoming VR technology on Unreal Engine.
Well, it certainly has been an interesting few days for the gaming community. For those who may be out of the loop, last week Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple after the company pulled their megapopular multiplayer game Fortnite from the iOS App Store. This removal was in direct response to the introduction of a new payment system that allowed Epic to sell in-game items without having to share 30% of the profits with Apple, as per the companies longstanding guidelines.
This is where things get interesting. Less than an hour after having their game removed from the App Store, as well as Google Play on Android, Epic responded with a prepared lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Not only that, the company launched a full social media campaign designed to rally fans behind their flag, including a #FreeFortnite hashtag as well as a video parodying Apple’s infamous “1984” Macintosh commercial. Clearly Epic was baiting Apple into a conflict in order to raise awareness around “Apple’s anti-competitive conduct.”
On Monday Apple responded further, threatening to permanently delete Epic’s developer accounts and deny future access to Mac and iOS development tools. This decision could prove devastating for Epic’s Unreal Engine and the hundreds of existing Mac and iOS apps powered by Unreal. It doesn’t end there, however. Epic would also lose access to “adoption and support of ARKit features and future VR features into Unreal Engine by their XR team.”
What’s especially interesting about this response is the companies reference to “future VR features.” While we’ve yet to receive any form of official confirmation, rumors have been circulating for years regarding an Apple VR headset. This past March Macrumors uncovered information in a leaked build of iOS 14 pointing toward the existence of a hybrid VR/AR headset currently in development at Apple, further cementing the idea of an upcoming Apple headset. With Unreal Engine serving as one of the most popular platforms for VR developers, this lawsuit could prove detrimental to the industry by slowing the development of countless project still-in-development and halting support for existing apps and games.
Epic has until August 28th to halt Apple’s lawsuit before their developer accounts are destroyed, and you best believe the company is seeking the help of dedicated fans to weather this self-inflicted storm. Unfortunately for Epic, the general public hasn’t responded as sympathetically to their cause as they’d initially hoped. Instead of highlighting what the company believes to be unfair business practices by Apple, all they’ve managed to do is alienate players with their #FreeFortnite call-to-action.
What do you think? Is Epic in the wrong for intentionally breaking iOS guidelines to highlight what they consider to be unfair businesses practices by Apple?
Image Credit: VRScout, MacRumors