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Microsoft backs Epic’s Apple battle on game technology access

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By: Bloomberg |

Published: August 24, 2020 10:32:12 am


Microsoft, Microsoft sales, Microsoft premium, Microsoft performance, Microsoft Cloud services, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft profit, Microsoft vs GoogleMicrosoft backs Epic against Apple (File Photo)

Epic, a game developer, is set to ask a federal court on Monday to force Apple to restore the Fortnite app to the App Store, and block the iPhone maker from cutting off Epic’s developer tools and limiting its ability to provide key graphics technology to other apps.

The graphics technology, known as Unreal Engine, is a suite of software used by millions of developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting off Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company can no longer distribute Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic said in its legal filing. Microsoft, which makes the Xbox, uses the technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices.

Apple’s move “will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage,” Kevin Gammill, general manager of gaming developer experiences at Microsoft, said in a court declaration. “Developing a game using different game engines for different platforms may be prohibitively expensive and difficult.”

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Apple has urged a judge in Oakland, California, to reject Epic’s request.

Back in June, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said European and U.S. regulators should examine the app store practices of an unnamed company that Microsoft later clarified was Apple. Smith complained about the barriers the store creates to getting on devices and the tolls charged app makers, saying these actions create a more serious barrier than Microsoft’s own Windows ever did when the company was found guilty of violating U.S. antitrust laws.

ALSO READ | Apple says Epic sought special ‘side’ deal on Fortnite fee

Last month, Smith briefed members of the House of Representatives’s antitrust subcommittee ahead of a hearing in which Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook was a witness. The company has been upset with Apple’s rules preventing Microsoft’s Xbox gaming unit from releasing a cloud-gaming service that works with iPads and iPhones. Microsoft’s xCloud service will launch on Sept. 15 with compatibility to Android devices only.

The case is Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05640, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

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