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Okay, okay. You know that all is not well with Fortnite right now, yeah? The game was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play after its makers, Epic, decided to implement a new in-app payment method for discounted V-Bucks, the game's currency. This new system, the Mega Drop, was also introduced to the game on PC and console - but Apple and Google, y'see, they like to take a 30% cut on all in-app purchases, and Epic's workaround denied them this. Cue: the game's removal.
Now, that did not go down well with Epic, who filed lawsuits against Apple and Google, stating that their 30% fee represented an "unfair and anti-competitive" practice. Epic released an awful video parodying Apple's own 1984-inspired campaign (of 1984, actually), which therefore also took the same cues from George Orwell's famous novel and... Gosh, this all gets tangled, doesn't it? And exhausting, frankly.
Still confused? I don't blame you. Maybe this video will help. Don't worry, words continue, right after it...
And... back in the room. After all of that, up there, Apple said that any game using Epic's Unreal Engine was at risk of being removed from the App Store - which includes a host of titles that, aside from the use of said engine, have zero connection to Epic. Apple also threatened to make it so that anyone using Unreal Engine in the development of their games couldn't have access to further development tools essential for creating games for the App Store. Phew, this is truly a saga, isn't it? In response to that threat from Apple, Epic filed a restraining order - as to lose access to iOS and Mac tools would mean developers simply dropping Unreal Engine altogether, at great cost to Epic.
Said Epic, in its restraining order: "If the Unreal Engine can no longer support Apple platforms, the software developers that use it will be forced to use alternatives. The damage to Epic's ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable."
And now another tech heavyweight - and a huge presence in the gaming space - has joined the messiness. Microsoft has waded in, offering its support to Epic, as reported by PC Gamer. The company has filed a statement (read it in full, here) to the relevant District Court in Oakland, California, in which Kevin Gammill - Microsoft's general manager of Gaming Developer Experiences - writes (statement edited for length):
"Epic Games' Unreal Engine is critical technology for numerous game creators including Microsoft. Many of these creators do not have the resources or capabilities to build their own game engines and rely on the availability of third-party game engines, while other creators may choose to use third-party game engines to save development costs and utilise already-developed technologies.
"As a result, Epic's Unreal Engine is one of the most popular third-party game engines available to game creators, and in Microsoft's view there are very few other options available for creators to license with as many features and as much functionality as Unreal Engine across multiple platforms, including iOS.
"Because iOS is a large and growing market for games, Apple's discontinuation of Unreal Engine's ability to support iOS will be a material disadvantage for the Unreal Engine in future decisions by Microsoft and other game creators as to the choice of an engine for new games. Apple's discontinuation of Epic's ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers."
There's a lot more to it, of course, but you get the idea from the quotes above. Phil Spencer, effectively the face of all things Xbox (and officially Microsoft's executive vice-president of gaming), tweeted the link to Gammill's statement, adding that "Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer (sic) developers and gamers".
This isn't Microsoft standing up for Epic's implementation of the Mega Drop system, of course - but it is them saying that if Apple cuts off invaluable support to developers producing games for the App Store using Unreal Engine, well, that hurts everyone. Surely there's a sensible outcome to all of this, you'd think. But then you remember it's 2020 and... no, probably not.
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