Tensions between Epic Games and Apple have far surpassed a breaking point, with the former filing a lawsuit against the latter after Fortnite was removed from the App Store on iOS devices. Over the weekend, Xbox's Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft's company had filed a statement in support of Epic Games's lawsuit.
"Today we filed a statement in support of Epic's request to keep access to the Apple SDK for its Unreal Engine," Spencer's statement reads on Twitter. "Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing to do for gamer developers and gamers."
Xbox's statement is centered chiefly around Apple blocking Epic's ability to support the Unreal Engine on iOS, and the effect this would have on developers. "Epic Games' Unreal Engine is critical technology for numerous game creators including Microsoft," Microsoft's GM of Game Developer Experience Kevin Gammill writes in the statement. "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.
"[...] If Unreal Engine cannot support games for iOS and 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 developing new games," Gammill added. The statement rounds out with Gammill saying that an Unreal Engine that can no longer develop updates to fix software bugs or patch security exploits will harm gamers.
This all follows after Epic challenged Apple's 30 percent transaction fee on the App Store, giving Fortnite users a chance to pay Epic Games directly for V-Buck purchases without giving money to Apple. Apple responded by removing Fortnite from the App Store, and has since barred Epic Games's access to update their Unreal Engine and other developer tools, which Epic is now attempting to overturn in a lawsuit against Apple.
It's interesting that Xbox would file support for Epic Games after their xCloud release on Apple devices was effectively shot down earlier this month. While in beta on iOS devices, Microsoft was only able to promote one game—Halo: The Master Chief Collection—for iOS users. The xCloud beta ended earlier this month, with Microsoft unable to launch their streaming platform on Apple devices (in a stark contrast to Android devices, where xCloud will launch in full next month).
Apple claimed it would have to vet every single game promoted through the xCloud streaming service, and as such, it would be an incredibly drawn out process for xCloud to bring hundreds of Xbox Game Pass games to the platform. Epic Games's lawsuit against Apple could have major ramifications for Xbox's xCloud if it means third-party launchers are allowed on Apple devices, therefore circumventing Apple's demands on the App Store.