Microsoft has filed a statement in support of Epic’s request for a temporary restraining order against Apple’s plan to remove its access to iOS development tools. Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager of gaming developer experiences, said in the filing that the Unreal Engine is “critical technology for numerous game creators,” and that blocking Epic’s ability to support it on iOS and MacOS “will harm game creators and gamers.”
The move was linked to an Epic memorandum supporting the Fortnite creator’s attempt to maintain access. Epic rejected Apple’s belief that Epic hadn’t provided evidence of significant harm to the Unreal Engine, pointing to both earlier documents and Microsoft’s support as proof. Epic further claimed that Apple was overreaching by threatening to take away multiple developer accounts when there was only an alleged violation for one. The scope of Apple’s response was an “unlawful” effort to “chill any action by others who might dare oppose Apple,” Epic said.
Apple previously accused Epic of trying to create a false crisis by intentionally breaking App Store rules, and characterizing its response as a matter of known policy. Developers who “work to deceive Apple” lose access, the company said.
It’s not certain if Microsoft’s backing will help Epic get a reprieve. While the support does illustrate the possible ripple effect on the game industry, it’s still true that Epic knew the likely consequences of breaking App Store rules — it had a lawsuit and marketing campaign ready to go the day Apple pulled Fortnite. There’s no guarantee a court will sympathize with Epic’s request for a reprieve, no matter how well the lawsuit might fare.