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On Sunday Head of Xbox Phil Spencer made his Twitter followers aware of a statement Microsoft had filed with the Northern District of California court, supporting Epic’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the iOS firm.
This month Epic challenged Apple’s 30 percent cut of in-app purchases by adding a direct payment option to the Fortnite App, in breach of App Store rules. The move resulted in the removal of Fortnite from iOS and Epic immediately filed a lawsuit.
Epic subsequently requested a temporary restraining order, which would reverse Fortnite’s App Store removal and the impending cancellation of its developer accounts, which it needs to support its popular Unreal Engine tech on iOS.
In Microsoft’s statement of support, its GM of Gaming Developer Experience Kevin Gammill highlighted the affect blocking Epic’s ability to support Unreal on iOS would have on developers.
He called on the court to grant Epic’s temporary restraining order, on the basis that blocking Unreal Engine would “harm game creators and gamers.”
“Epic Games’ Unreal Engine is critical technology for numerous game creators including Microsoft,” he said.
“Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS, and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage.”
He added: “If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS or macOS, Microsoft would be required to choose between abandoning its customers and potential customers on the iOS and macOS platforms or choosing a different game engine when preparing to develop new games.”
Gammill said Apple’s removal of Unreal Engine’s ability to develop updates could also harm already-launched iOS and macOS games built with the middleware.
“If the game engine can no longer develop updates that take advantage of new iOS or macOS features, fix software bugs, or patch security flaws, this will harm games that have already launched on iOS and macOS (and, in turn, harm gamers),” he said.
Microsoft has a company-wide, multi-year Unreal Engine license agreement and has released games with the technology on PC, console and mobile.
The Xbox firm had its own dispute with Apple this month, when the iOS firm blocked the release of Xbox game streaming on the platform.
This led to a strongly-worded statement in which Microsoft claimed that “Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass.”