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Apple vs Epic’s battle to affect UE iOS video game developers

Apple and Epic’s battle is making headlines all across the globe, but it’s Unreal Engine iPhone games developers who may face the brunt. It all started on August 13 when Epic Games released an update of Fortnite on the App Store and Google Play Store and introduced a direct payment option for V-Bucks that circumvented payments through Apple’s and Google’s app stores.  Both Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their respective app stores for the maker’s wilful violation of their in-app purchase policies. This led Epic to file an antitrust lawsuit against both the tech giants, to which Apple later retaliated by threatening Epic to cut off access to all its game development tools necessary to create software for Apple’s platform as of August 28. Now, as Unreal Engine, one of the most popular game engines, comes from Epic, Apple’s revocation of Epic’s access to developer privileges will be inflicted upon Unreal Engine too, and third party video game developers will also no longer be able to use Unreal Engine to build games for Apple platforms.

Epic has filed a motion for an injunction against Apple in the US District Court for California’s Northern District, alleging Apple of attacking Epic’s entire business in unrelated areas. A federal judge on August 24 gave a temporary restraining order and ruled that Apple can't terminate Epic’s access to Unreal Engine development tools on Apple platforms, but let the Fortnite ban stand. A short-lived restraining order addressed the most pressing concern of Epic as it meant that Epic will be able to keep growing Unreal Engine for iOS operating systems, but the game is not over yet and the threat still looms.

Apple and Epic's Battle: Unreal Engine Games for iOS in Jeopardy? 

If Epic ends up losing access to iOS development tools, Unreal Engine game developers will have no other choice than using another game engine to build games for Apple platforms. It’s also a big worry for developers that have already launched Unreal-powered games for iOS and MacOS because an update from Apple that renders older games unplayable can result in huge revenue losses. Apple has also taken some such recent decisions like to reduce compatibility for 32-bit apps on iOS and on MacOS.

What Unreal Engine Users Will Lose

I have prepared a list of programs, technologies, and capabilities that Unreal Engine users will lose access to if the court upheld Apple’s revocation of Epic's dev tools.

  • All Apple software, SDKs, APIs, and developer tools

  • Pre-release versions of iOS, iPad OS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS

  • Pre-release versions of beta tools such as Reality Composer, Create ML, Apple Configurator, etc.

  • Notarization service for macOS apps

  • App Store Connect platform and support which assist in account transition, password reset, app name issues. etc.

  • TestFlight.

  • Access to provisioning portal for certificate generation, and provisioning profile generation.

  • Ability to enable in-app Apple services, including Apple Pay, CloudKit, PassKit, Music Kit, HomeKit, Push Notifications, Siri Shortcuts, Sign in with Apple, kernel extensions, FairPlay Streaming.

  • Access to Apple-issued keys for connecting to services such as MusicKit, DeviceCheck, APNs, CloudKit, Wallet.

  • Access to Developer ID signing certificates and Kernel Extension signing certificates.

  • Developer Technical Support.

  • Participation in Universal App Quick Start Program, including the right to use the Developer Transition Kit (which must be returned to Apple).

  • Ability to improve hardware and software performance of Unreal Engine on Mac and iOS hardware and optimize Unreal Engine on the Mac for creative workflows, virtual sets and their CI/Build Systems.

  • Adoption and support of ARKit features and future VR features into Unreal Engine.

If Epic lost access to all the above development tools necessary to build game apps for Apple Platforms, Unity may get a big competitive edge. It’s highly likely that many Unreal developers will turn to Unity, which is currently the most used game engine for building cross-platform mobile games. Yes, Unreal Engine scores higher when it comes to creating heavy graphics games, but Unity is quickly inching closer to level the playing field for Unity game development companies. So, Apple’s  revocation of Epic's dev tools could mean more Unity game developers building games for Apple platforms.

Alternatives to Unreal Engine

There are other alternatives to Unreal Engine as well, such as Construct 2, GameMaker Studio,  CocoonJS, MonoGame, Amazon Lumberyard and more. Game app developers will have to see which game engine will suit their game requirements the best if Apple won and rendered Unreal Engine unusable to build iOS and MacOS games. Game engines play a big role in the mobile game development process and that’s why Apple’s battle with Epic has a lot do with the developers who use Unreal for creating iOS and MacOS games. We all hope things between Apple and Epic get back to normal as before, and Unreal Engine developers keep making games for Apple platforms in the future too.

You can get in touch with us if you have a game idea and are looking for a game development studio for hire. Logic Simplified, a top game development company, is in the game development space for almost a decade now and has hands-on experience of using several cutting edge tools, such as Unity, Unreal Engine, Construct 2, Maya, Blender and many more, to create highly engaging video games. Outsourcing is already a very popular practice and it’s gaining even more steam as more and more gaming businesses are now looking to hire game development outsourcing studios due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. There are several things that come to the mind before making a decision whether or not to go for offshore game design and development services. And that’s perfectly alright! We are all ears to hear your concerns and explain to you how our game experts can help you build a quality video game with reduced time to market, engaging game elements, and low cost. We have seen both successes and failures, and thus our hard-earned knowledge of what exactly works in the gaming industry and what doesn’t could greatly help turn your game idea into a revenue generator machine. Share your requirements by writing to us at enquiry@logicsimplfied.com, and we will get back to you shortly to provide you with gaming solutions we are proud of.

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