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Apple Lifts Ban on Epic Games, Letting It Build Third-Party iOS App Store in EU


More than three years after losing access, Fortnite developer Epic Games has regained a developers account with Apple, paving the way for it to build a third-party iOS app store in the EU.

“We’ve received our Apple Developer Account and will start developing the Epic Games Store on iOS soon thanks to the new Digital Markets Act. We plan to launch in 2024,” the company said on Friday. 

“Epic Games Sweden AB will operate the mobile Epic Games Store and Fortnite in Europe, with the Store team leading development,” it added.

Back in August 2020, Apple terminated Epic Games’ developer accounts after the two companies became embroiled an antitrust feud over the rules for the iOS App Store. As a result, Epic Games was barred from officially listing Fortnite and other apps on Apple’s platforms.  

But in the European Union, the iPhone maker has been forced to loosen its stance. The EU’s Digital Markets Act has essentially forced Apple to break down barriers around the iOS ecosystem for users in the region, including permitting the creation of third-party iOS app stores.

Despite the concessions, Epic Games and other critics still accuse Apple of holding too much control over the iOS ecosystem. In fact, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was even doubtful that Cupertino would allow Epic Games to create a third-party app store in the EU. That’s because under Apple’s own policy, third-party app stores still need to receive authorization from the company to operate.  

“They (Apple) could block Epic from launching the Epic Games Store and distributing Fortnite through it, for example, or block Microsoft, Valve, Good Old Games, or new entrants,” Sweeney tweeted last month.  

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But so far, Apple has done the opposite. On Friday, Sweeney said Epic Games’ Sweden AB division received the iOS developer account, adding “I’ll be the first to acknowledge a good faith move by Apple amidst our cataclysmic antitrust battle.”

However, the upcoming store will only operate in the EU. Despite agreeing to comply with the Digital Markets Act, Apple has refused to enact the policy for other markets, saying it risks exposing iOS users to malicious threats from third-party app stores and downloads.

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