Apple escalates Epic feud by blocking developer account in EU

  • Epic CEO Tim Sweeney announced that Apple has rejected Epic Games’ application for a developer account to launch an iPhone app store in Europe, citing the move as retaliatory for Epic’s legal actions and lobbying against Apple’s App Store policies.
  • The rejection marks the first known instance of Apple blocking a competitive app store in Europe, raising concerns about its compliance with the new Digital Markets Act, which mandates tech giants to allow third-party app stores to ensure a competitive environment.
  • Apple defended its decision by highlighting Epic’s violation of contractual obligations and ongoing litigation against Apple, while Epic plans to challenge the decision, viewing it as an attempt by Apple to stifle competition and innovation in the app market.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said on Wednesday that Apple has denied Epic Games’ developer account application, intended for launching its own app store in Europe.

This is Apple’s retaliation

Sweeney cited emails from Apple App Store head Phil Schiller and Apple’s lawyers, stating Apple’s decision was retaliatory for the game company’s antitrust lobbying, lawsuit against Apple, and some of Sweeney’s social media posts.

In an interview, Sweeney stated, “The way Apple is killing Epic as an App Store competitor is shocking. It’s like the feudal lords of the Middle Ages, hanging the skulls of their former enemies on their castle walls.”

This is the first public instance of Apple blocking a competitive app store in Europe, potentially prompting scrutiny of the iPhone maker’s compliance with new antitrust laws.

Since Epic sued Apple in 2020 over whether Fortnite could bypass Apple’s App Store rules and its 30% game sales cut, relations between Apple and Epic Games have been confrontational. Epic mostly lost but forced some policy modifications by Apple under California law.

The dispute highlights global regulatory threats to Apple’s App Store sales, a profitable part of Apple’s services business.

Also read: Apple to appeal $2 billion EU antitrust fine in Spotify case

Also read: Apple reverses decision to disable home screen web apps in EU

Apple had the right to terminate the account

An Apple spokesperson said the company had the right to terminate the account, especially since Epic is still suing the company.

“Epic gravely violated its contractual obligations to Apple, leading to a court ruling that Apple is entitled to terminate any or all accounts controlled by Epic Games, its wholly-owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or any other entities at Apple’s sole discretion. Given Epic’s past and current behaviour, Apple has chosen to exercise this right,” the spokesperson stated in a declaration.

Apple has begun complying with the Digital Markets Act

Apple has begun complying with the Digital Markets Act, a new law enacted this week in Europe that forces large tech companies to open their platforms to competitors. For Apple, this means allowing third-party app stores in Europe to compete with the iPhone App Store, which Apple opposes citing user safety.

Apple plans to introduce new fees, software warnings, and a basic approval process for third-party app stores, criticised by companies like Spotify for not adhering to the spirit of the new EU law, including adding a 50 euro cent (55 cents) fee on downloads.

Sweeney said on Wednesday that Epic plans to launch a new app store in Europe to distribute Fortnite and other games. It applied for a developer account in Sweden, but Apple rejected it after Schiller sent an email to Sweeney citing his statements about the 2020 lawsuit and Epic Games’ decision to bypass App Store billing at the time.

Schiller wrote in an email provided by Epic Games, “We invite you to provide us with written assurance that your actions are sincere and that regardless of your public behaviour and statements, Epic Games Sweden will fulfill all its promises.”

Sweeney said he told Schiller he would abide by all current and future agreements with Apple and that he was acting sincerely.

A week later, Apple terminated the account through a lawyer’s email, citing Sweeney’s series of public attacks and social media posts against Apple.

Apple also stated it suspected Epic would use the account for lobbying and manipulating litigation processes in other jurisdictions.

Apple wants Epic to shut up

Sweeney said, “This is an open invitation from Apple to tell us exactly what commitments they want us to make and how they want us to make commitments to not lock us out as a competitor.”

“Based on my interaction with Apple, they want two things,” he continued. “They want some sort of article expressing loyalty to Apple, a creative writing project, and they want us to shut up.”


Chloe Chen

Chloe Chen is a junior writer at BTW Media. She graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and had various working experiences in the finance and fintech industry. Send tips to

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