back to article Apple takes another swing at Epic, says Unreal Engine could be a 'trojan horse' threatening security

Apple has responded to an attempt by Epic Games to get its games back in Cupertino's App Store, as the two tech giants contest the fairness of compelling developers to hand over 30 per cent of revenue for applications in the software souk. Apple, the world’s most valuable publicly listed company by market capitalization, does …

  1. LDS Silver badge

    "Apple would face incalculable harm"

    Sure, a lot of profits lost.

    The rest is just propaganda to try to avoid the above. Apple wants revert to the pre-PC world, where hardware makers had total control of the software as well.

    Users are the losers.

    1. Joe Dietz

      Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

      Appl makes it astonishingly obnoxious to even download free things without a credit card number on file. Seems a bit discriminatory given the number of folks that don't have banking... but pretty obvious where their head is at - show me the money rube!

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

        > Appl makes it astonishingly obnoxious to even download free things without a credit card number on file

        Rather oddly, you can't activate family sharing for younglings without one on file, which seems to go against the grain of not wanting aforementioned youngling racking up a large bill on your card (notwithstanding the ability to require approval on all purchases)

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

          "Rather oddly, you can't activate family sharing for younglings without one on file"

          This particular decision is about legal ID, rather than profit. In fact it probably reduces profit as prepaid credit cards or gift cards are also not accepted for family sharing purposes. Apple needs verifiable proof that the person downloading - or authorising downloads - is over 18. A credit card is the simplest way of offloading this ID verification onto credit card companies so they don't have to do it themselves.

          1. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

            My issue is that the account is not downloading anything, even free stuff, so doesn't need ID. Equally, the younglings account has a dob with it that I have set, so shouldn't be allowed to do anything inconsistent with that without adult intervention anyway.

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

              "shouldn't be allowed to do anything inconsistent with that without adult intervention anyway."

              And how do you prove it's an adult doing the intervening?

              1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                Absolutely fine with a CC being used at that point, but it's not necessary before then

              2. Teiwaz Silver badge

                Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                "shouldn't be allowed to do anything inconsistent with that without adult intervention anyway."

                And how do you prove it's an adult doing the intervening?

                Not logging your CC number with apple at all sounds like a pretty responsible (and presumably adult) decision to me....

                But, I suppose from apples perspective, not wishing to shower apple with more money must be the indicative of a dangerously irresponsible individual.

                This entire case seems to back that up.

              3. JetSetJim Silver badge

                Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                Add to which, entering CC details on a form doesn't imply age > 18, just that person entering those details has access to a CC. A few youngsters (<12yo) I'm aware of have "borrowed" an adults card to buy in-game currency. It's been discovered moderately quickly, and amounts got refunded, children sent to re-education camps, but on the whole, entering CC details is no barrier to younger people.

                1. DS999

                  Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                  entering CC details is no barrier to younger people

                  Perhaps not, but what would you recommend as an alternative for Apple's customers to prove they are 18 years old? Send in a scan of a driver's license? Sites that can put your picture and whatever name you want onto an image of a driver's license you can use to "prove" your age are all over the internet. A passport might be better since the penalties for forgery are a lot stiffer so hopefully it isn't quite so easy to fake, but a minority of Americans even have a passport (perhaps this is higher in places like the UK where other countries are so much closer)

                  Proving your age online is an issue with a lot of places, someone ought to come up with a solution. Maybe if you integrate it with something like Touch ID/Face ID your phone can attest to your age when you identify yourself to it, after you have proved to a notary that you are who you say you are and they add some sort of electronic notary stamp on your phone. While that would be useful for other reasons, it would be a bit much for Apple to suggest you have to visit a notary to establish your identity/age before you can be the 'responsible' person on devices owned by minors.

                  1. JetSetJim Silver badge
                    Terminator

                    Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                    I don't mind using it for age verification, but only when necessary. Apple would like to have a CC for you on file from the second you setup an iDevice, which to me is rather unreasonable. A payment method is only required when actually paying for something, and ID is only required to obtain something that has an age restriction on it. If I'm not doing either of those things, then Apple can bugger off, as far as I'm concerned

                    1. jwatkins

                      Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                      Websites should use an approved government ID - what could possibly go wrong then?

                      1. David 132 Silver badge

                        Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

                        Upvoted, but for the record I approve of your sarcasm, NOT the concept of government ID *shudder*

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

            " A credit card is the simplest way of offloading this ID verification onto credit card companies so they don't have to do it themselves."

            My little sister had a credit card at the age of 8. My other sister and I were always asking if we could take her shopping. The card was attached to her dad's (half sister) account. It was funny when we'd all go out for a dinner and the youngest one whipped out the card for payment. She had a gov ID too so it was all tidy and legal. Just having a credit card isn't a proof of age. Being the account holder would suggest the person is 18, but I don't think vendors get that info.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. JimBob01

        Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

        "Appl makes it astonishingly obnoxious to even download free things without a credit card number on file."

        Care to elaborate on your claim? I found it pretty simple to create an Store account with no payment method ... perfect for downloading those free things...

        1. monty75

          Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

          And even if you want to pay for apps you can do so by buying iTunes gift cards in any of about a million shops.

      4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

        "Appl makes it astonishingly obnoxious to even download free things without a credit card number on file."

        It's a piece of piss. Where did you hear that it was difficult?

    2. anononononono

      Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

      Technologicaly savvy users are the loser, general consumers who don't have the insight to not install dodgy anti virus software from adverts tha bombards them from web pages, badly programmed apps, free kids apps that that are nothing but adverts, apps that track users through new and inventive means, etc. Not everyone works in tech and reads el reg. Having a smartphone should not require years of experience with computers, I get that devs hate apple, that doesn't mean it's bad for consumers

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

        "I get that devs hate apple, that doesn't mean it's bad for consumers"

        Risky move saying THAT on El Reg...

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

        Actually, as a software developer, I want to be able to use my phone without having to bother about security and all that. It's extra work that I can do without. But the review process also makes lots of abuses impossible. Your fart app wants access to my address book? Can't do that because Apple says no. I don't need to decide what is more important, my privacy or your fart app.

        1. Gordon861

          Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

          The problem with "But the review process also makes lots of abuses impossible" is that the review process blatantly failed to spot what Epic were doing until they'd already done it, so less secure than previously thought.

          As an aside, do Apple users that downloaded the recent "don't pay Apple" version still have access to it and are they still able to avoid the ApplePay system?

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: "Apple would face incalculable harm"

            Read my post again Gordon. It is a fact that many abuses are made impossible by the review process. In this case, Epic didn't pass anything that would have harmed consumers, it was just a blatant and intentional violation of their contract with Apple. Epic shot themselves in the foot. No consumers were hurt in the process.

  2. Helstrom
    Facepalm

    "imminent threat to Apple’s customers’ data (including children’s data)"

    I can certainly understand the need to throw out the near obligatory "think of the children" line in any avenue meant for public consumption but I would have thought that such hyperbole wouldn't be necessary in court filings.

    1. Maelstorm Bronze badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: "imminent threat to Apple’s customers’ data (including children’s data)"

      Generally, it's not. But they have to make it look good to the judge.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "imminent threat to Apple’s customers’ data (including children’s data)"

      This isn't just any court filing. It's a high profile case. Epic began it with simultaneous moves against both Apple and Google, and had pre-prepared press statements and videos released simultaneously with their lawsuits the day they got chucked out of both app stores.

      Managing to get chucked out of both on the same day was clearly deliberate too - and will have taken a bit bof effort to organise.

      Hence Apple are responding in kind, with the full PR treatment.

  3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Gimp

    "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

    To be fair here, Apple with its size and walled garden approach is not used to any developer having the clout to stand up to Apple's usual business practices.

    1. RedRichie

      Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

      Either way, I hope Epic gets ragged backwards over this one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

        Why? I thought they were the good guys here...

        1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

          Not really.

          They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

            I don't see why Apple should get 30% of in-app purchases. I understand they take 30% of the price of the app, that's what you pay for being in the store, but I don't see why transactions on that app should be taxed.

            If you have a banking app on an iphone do they take 30% of every transaction on that too?

            1. Stumpy Silver badge

              Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

              Ahhh... but the app is free to download. So that's 30% of nothing.

              1. DS999

                Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                Yep, app developers have found it is a lot better to give away the app for free and then charge a small amount at a time many times than to require full payment up front like most PC applications had been doing for several decades.

                If something that would have been $50 back in the day is free and then relies on addicted users to spend $50 (and maybe $500 if they are really addicted) over the next few months/years why should the company that created the platform get stiffed because you think "charging for in app purchases isn't fair".

                Now for stuff like a subscription to Netflix I think taking a cut is a bit more problematic, since the Netflix app is incidental to the service they are paying for. The same argument cannot be made for a game and its in app purchases, or say a biking or smart remote control app that's free but charges you a monthly or yearly subscription to access advanced features of the app or remove the advertising.

                So basically I think Spotify has a much stronger argument against Apple than Epic does.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

              30% is standard for a bricks and mortar shop. It’s also the usual amount charged in AppStores (Google/Microsoft/etc.). It’s actually less than a Games Console.

              1. gnasher729 Silver badge

                Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                In bricks and mortar shops, 30% was more the standard for what the developer received, instead of 70%.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                There is a difference between a payment and a purchase when comparing to shops etc.

                Apple's end of the so called in-app "purchases" is, in reality, and in practice, offering nothing more than a payment system/broker, taking a 900% greater cut for a commodity service. (30% versus the typical 3%)

                Recurring billing, service upgrades etc do not involve any Apple infrastructure for what is just payment except what is being artificially enforced, at an artificial fee.

                So you need to compare this with payment charges with other services that are 1-3%, not purchase margins.

                1. Robert Grant Silver badge

                  Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                  It's not just that. The entire development ecosystem is created and maintained by Apple as well, and they only charge a tiny up front fee to register to use all of that. It's not just a shop (although that will also cost a reasonable amount to maintain and run).

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                    > they only charge a tiny up front fee to register to use all of that.

                    Maybe it is to you, but I'd hardly call the cost of a Mac and iPhone (and maybe iPad) a "tiny up front fee".

                    Did you think Apple let you develop, test and release iOS apps from a Windows or Linux box?

                    1. Robert Grant Silver badge

                      Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                      Maybe it is to you, but I'd hardly call the cost of a Mac and iPhone (and maybe iPad) a "tiny up front fee".

                      Did you think Apple let you develop, test and release iOS apps from a Windows or Linux box?

                      Do you think Windows and Linux boxes are free? And the devices are optional, and while you should have them, they are not the registration fee.

                      The registration fee for the app store is something like $80 to register a dev account.

                2. gnasher729 Silver badge

                  Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                  "Apple's end of the so called in-app "purchases" is, in reality, and in practice, offering nothing more than a payment system/broker,"

                  You just swallowed Epic's self serving propaganda. There's a lot more than a payment system / broker. If you look just at payments, Apple handles all the taxes for about 150 different countries. That's worth a lot. At the end Apple hands you the cash, and all taxes (VAT in all kinds of countries) have been taken care off. Your credit card company doesn't do that.

                  Next, Apple does indeed run the App Store, which costs money.

                  Apple makes in app purchases _secure_. You can be sure that there are no forged in-app purchases, where the developer doesn't receive any money at all.

                  Apple provides lots of services to the developer, like push notifications, secure login with the user's AppleID (which is broken for Fortnite right now), maps, iCloud storage etc. etc.

                  And finally, Apple takes the same percentage from everybody. Including from free apps. So companies like Fortnite contribute by financing the same services for free apps, for apps from small developers, and so on. If Apple gave in to the real big money makers and reduced the percentage for them, they would have to increase the percentage for all the little ones.

                  Being one of the little ones, I'm all for a Chinese owned company to help paying for my app to get on the App Store.

                  1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                    Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                    You just swallowed Epic's self serving propaganda. There's a lot more than a payment system / broker. If you look just at payments, Apple handles all the taxes for about 150 different countries. That's worth a lot. At the end Apple hands you the cash, and all taxes (VAT in all kinds of countries) have been taken care off. Your credit card company doesn't do that.

                    ....

                    Apple makes in app purchases _secure_. You can be sure that there are no forged in-app purchases, where the developer doesn't receive any money at all.

                    But they only do that because you're having to use their payment system (because they said so). Sure, it's a benefit of using their payment system.

                    To turn that argument on it's head:

                    Apple have inflated the price by adding in additional "services" that developers have to accept (because they're not allowed to use other payment systems) despite the fact that some/many will be more than happy to handle taxes themselves.

                    I'm not saying that Epic are necessarily in the right here, but these parts of your argument don't really hold water. If Epic use their own card processor, Apple hasn't lost anything but their 30% commission, because they're not providing the services you've listed any more.

                    If I'm the only maker of a widget you're allowed to trade with, the fact it comes with good information booklets doesn't make it automatically good value

                    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

                      Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                      Everybody loses because the big money makers don't contribute to the cost of making free apps or apps with small sales numbers. And with their attitude, you can be sure that 150 countries would be a hard time getting their VAT payments. Which would probably come back to haunt Apple. And finally, Apple does indeed provide lots of services to the users of these apps without payment, and they get paid for this by taking a fixed percentage from everyone who makes money from their apps.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                    > Apple makes in app purchases _secure_. You can be sure that there are no forged in-app purchases, where the developer doesn't receive any money at all.

                    *Any* payment provider would make in-app purchases _secure_. There are dozens of them to choose from. Only a tiny handful of payment providers charge 30% - the ones which have operating-system enforced monopolies.

                    > And finally, Apple takes the same percentage from everybody.

                    Ahaha, no. Apple already have special deals with at least Netflix and Amazon, who pay a lower percentage than most other apps because they're popular and powerful enough to have leverage over Apple.

                    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

                      Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                      "*Any* payment provider would make in-app purchases _secure_. "

                      Nonsense. Any payment provider would make _the flow of money_ secure. That doesn't help against inevitable hackers who will find a way to make in-app "purchases" that don't involve any actual payment going through any payment provider. The same problem that people fight against with jailbroken phones, that are mostly jailbroken so that people can install apps _without any payment_.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

                        > Nonsense. Any payment provider would make _the flow of money_ secure. That doesn't help against inevitable hackers who will find a way to make in-app "purchases" that don't involve any actual payment going through any payment provider.

                        I don't see how Apple Pay provides any additional protection over any other payment provider in this scenario. If an attacker can bypass the payment mechanism to get free in-app items, then it doesn't matter which payment provider is used, because it's been bypassed.

                  3. Falmari
                    Facepalm

                    Absolutely nothing.

                    "And finally, Apple takes the same percentage from everybody. Including from free apps."

                    How do they do that, whats 30% of nothing or 100% that's right still absolutely nothing. You can't take a percentage of nothing.

              3. LDS Silver badge

                "standard for a bricks and mortar shop"

                Have you ever tried to run one and see what costs you? Apple has huge savings by running an e-store, if Apple had to run millions of "bricks and mortar shop" to sell apps the costs would be hugely higher (Amazon too, for the matter). It's a nonsensical comparison - moreover "bricks and mortar shop" have to buy goods in advance to sell them with a risk they go unsold, Apple doesn't.

                The huge profits Apple itself posts shows that they just make easy money with little costs - it's a mafia-like operation.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I don't see why Apple should get 30% of in-app purchases.

              while I consider apple to be a baddest apple in a cart of rotten fruit, I do see why apple should get that 30%, they should, because they can, i.e. because they have (no doubt carefully and cleverly) worked out that this is the max they can squeeze out without tipping the balance and losing more than they profit (and profiteer) from. Why don't they do it with every banking transaction? Firstly, and crucially, because they couldn't get away with it, as there are (still, but not for long) many other ways for people to spend their money. Secondly, the analogy with each banking transaction is not accurate, Apple do not charge app makers or users per each _usage_, which would be an analogy of "each transaction". Arguably, they charge app makers, as banks charge, in many countries, their customers, a card fee (usually yearly). Retail also adds the final markup on each item sold in shop, and that final (not the first) markup is easily 50%, and over 100% with certain food products. Yes, you can argue that e-cost is nothing in comparison with cost of running retail, but this means you suggest that the markup should be "fair" and proportional to cost of running an establishment, such as apple's garden. I think it should be fair and proportional, but my "fair", as a consumer, is "as low as possible", and their "fair", as a shop is "as much as possible but not so much that the producer or end customer goes elsewhere" (if they have anywhere else to go, that is :). E-market consolidation (possibly mirroring what happens with supermarket sector) generates exactly the same effect. Which doesn't mean that "something" shouldn't be done about it, but... I don't think that "something" has been done about it in retail, so I'm not optimistic a solution will be found in a digital world.

              1. PaymentGuy

                Re: I don't see why Apple should get 30% of in-app purchases.

                " I do see why apple should get that 30%, they should, because they can, i.e. because they have (no doubt carefully and cleverly) worked out that this is the max they can squeeze out"

                Exactly. The very definition of anti-competitive practices and should be challenged. If there were multiple options *on that platform*, and 30% was the standard, then fair enough.

                It differs from Google in that it is at least possible to use a different app store & payment method to avoid Google's 30%.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

              That's why they created ApplePay and also prevented the banks access to the required NFC or Secure Eclave API so they had no competition. Yet another example of their monopolistic practices. They're not the richest company on the planet without reason.

            5. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: They tried to cheat their way out of payment system they knew upfront about.

              "If you have a banking app on an iphone do they take 30% of every transaction on that too?"

              Apple is providing the payment system. 30% sounds like a whole lot until you look at the cost per transaction and that many of these transactions are going to be for small amounts of money. 30% would be egregious if the average transaction amount was £500. When it's just a few quid, the accounting and third party costs really add up. Cashless is very expensive.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

            It's one thing if Apple offered a payment system that had benefits that developers wanted and charged for that. So developers found it worth 30% or customers demand it for whatever reason.

            However, neither is true. So to sustain it, Apple ban every and any other payment systems, which do not use their infrastructure and would be at no cost to them. They are artificially creating demand for their payments system at a fee that it not facing competition.

            It's not as if the app store would be any good without apps or with just apple apps. That A20 "best yet" apple gpu without the third party games would be pointless. It is these games that drive apple iphone upgrades. Apple portrayal of this situation is as if the app store is doing developers a favour.

            They are forcing the use of a uncompetitive system that does not offer any benefit. They even do not want users to know about it, and even do not allow the developer to offer a price reduction on other platforms.

            So i call bull shit on apple. 30% is a ridiculous number for a commodity service.

            As for the 'save the children' garbage, separate the app review guidelines for security and safety, from the revenue grab review criteria. I mean this is really about the children, isn't it.

            1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

              Re: It is these games that drive apple iphone upgrades

              Are you really sure about that? do you have the figures to back that up? I'm sure that a lot of people here would love to know that very thing.

              To me playing a game that is really meant for big screens on a Phone is not going to give you the same experience.

              I'm not a gamer unless you count Sudoku and Spider Solitaire as 'games' so what would I know eh other than I've heard my grandson complaining that my PC (R-Pi 4 running Linux) sucks at games and that his tablet is much better. So it should.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: It is these games that drive apple iphone upgrades

                @Steve Davies 3

                This includes iPads. It is the mac store that is separate. However, for the mac appstore, developer uptake is far lower.

                By your logic, apple is upgrading the GPU and have headline marketing statements about the leading GPU performance, because they want to decrease their margins. They even do the product announcement with 3D games, not puzzles.

                Whilst at the same time they work at increasing margins by removing headset sockets?

                Given the costs in die area, engineering and their recurring investment in the GPU, yes I believe that is the data that the GPU is a driver for new products, and a defining one.

                Besides your argument is a strawman - without the developer apps the iPhone and iPad would be unusable.

                This is a veiled bait and switch - first no fees, then mandatory apple payment api, then 30%, then no offering the service elsewhere for less.

                I'd imagine they'll just bump it to 40% on a whim, as their services revenue is their only growth driver in their strategy.

                Anyway, your gradson has answered the question - he values his tablet more, because the third-party games run better. The GPU makes the difference.

            2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

              "It's one thing if Apple offered a payment system that had benefits that developers wanted and charged for that. So developers found it worth 30% or customers demand it for whatever reason.

              However, neither is true."

              They do. The astonishing App Store turnover is proof of this. It's very simple, if there's nothing in it for the devs they'll go to another platform and the App Store will die. The fact that they're staying, and paying, means it's worth it to them.

          3. PaymentGuy

            Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

            Nah - they purposefully triggered an action that would open up the route to challenge the legality (under competition law) of the Ts&Cs.

    2. thondwe

      Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

      Didn't Amazon have a Tiff with Apple a while back over Kindle Books? You still can't buy books via the App. Can't see how books threaten security on the device - oh look Apple Books...

      1. Stumpy Silver badge

        Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

        It's not that the books are a security threat, it's that the rules state that all payments must go via ApplePay. Since Amazon don't do that ... they can't sell except via the website.

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

          I have Netflix on my phone, and I paid through Netflix' website. No problem. That's what the developer contract says. Epic can make as many purchases as they like through their website without giving Apple a penny. Absolutely within the contract.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            RE: Epic can make as many purchases as they like through their website without giving Apple a penny

            They can indeed.

            But they aren't allowed to tell the app users about that option, and they have to offer Apple Pay as well.

            Given that they show Apple Pay and cannot mention an alternative, what are the chances of that user paying through the web site?

      2. John Jennings Bronze badge

        Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

        And Audible (another Amazon Product). Audible on Apple is the only variant with In-app purchases blocked for the audio themselves.

        The same thing applies to charts and datasets for navigation apps and such. Usually, you can buy them directly in Android or Windows apps, but not on Apple....

        That is an example of how messed up Apples approach actually is. If the apps could offer the transactions with a reasonable VIG, they would, as that would sell more product. 30% is gouging.

        1. MOV r0,r0

          Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

          In the UK, competition between bricks & mortar grocers got their margins under 6% yet for distribution, a bit of admin and some QA, Apple charge 30%. And kids these days think "competition" is a dirty word! Welcome to the Hotel Cupertino - such a lovely place.

          1. DS999

            Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

            You think that a 6% margin means that wholesalers are getting 94% of the retail price? You've obviously never run a business!

            That's the margin AFTER the cost of running the store, which is not insignificant. Wholesalers are lucky to get 50% in a grocery store.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: "most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer,"

      To be fair here, Epic doesn't have the clout, even with a 750 billion dollar Chinese conglomerate behind them. If Apple doesn't want to do business with them, Apple won't do business with them.

  4. FordPrefect

    Is anyone stupid enough to believe....

    This is nothing more than an attempt by apple to enforce there 30% revenue stream from app developers. I mean basically they provide the hardware and OS. Charge users a premium then enforce any purchases through apps on the platform gives them 30% great business model if you can keep it going...

    1. Mark Exclamation

      Re: Is anyone stupid enough to believe....

      Rubbish. Epic (originally) agreed to the T&C of the App Store and became successful in there, making $millions. Now they don't like them and want more $millions. Most solutions consist of trying to re-negotiate the terms, or if that fails, cancel the contract and walk away. Epic wants it both ways - its own terms in the store AND stay in there. I hope Apple has an Epic win here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is anyone stupid enough to believe....

        Plus... if the latest court filings are true (IANAL etc etc etc) then Epic has made many threats to quit the App store over the years. Sounds more and more like a spoilt brat throwing its toys out of the pram and wanting brand new ones because the other ones are dirty.

        Epic has made according to some reports $600M from Apple users. Ok, so that would be nearer $1B if Apple didn't take its cut but to a company like Epic and spread if over several years, it is not going to threaten the survival of the company only the CEO's stock options.

        There are thousands and thousands of small app developers out there who are happy for Apple to take the commercial load off them by selling their app and handling payments etc. That leaves them more time to work on improving their apps. The App developers I know are not on Epic's side on this. One said to me, 'Epic wants its cake and to be able to eat it without putting on the pounds as a result'

        The rub is that neither company are going to come out of this well. Apple will survive. Epic may not. What price those stock options then Mr Sweeny?

        1. PaymentGuy

          Re: Is anyone stupid enough to believe....

          Alternatively, Epic could argue that it could drop its in-app prices by (e.g.) 20%. Epic get the same revenue either way, but customers benefit.

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Is anyone stupid enough to believe....

            Epic can drop its prices by 20% anyway, because all they sell is virtual tat that costs them nothing to produce. 100% profit taken mostly from gullible kids. Parents will be only too happy if Epic disappears.

      2. dan.515

        Re: Is anyone stupid enough to believe....

        The issue isn't the fees it's the complete lack of any competition. If there was fair competition Epic could walk away and negotiate with another payment processor/outlet just as is possible in other areas of business or retail. One could argue that in this case the alternative is Android. Though in reality it really isn't an alternative as it imposes almost exactly the same terms as Apple. You can also argue that Android allows sideloading but unless you are savvy and willing to jump through loads of hoops this really isn't an option for the masses. So as a developer you have no option but to submit to whatever terms and prices Apple and Google dictate. Which is a duopoly and bad for us all.

  5. Sampler

    "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

    So, um, just like any developer could do to sneak malware past app review, so much for Apple vaunted appstore protection...

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

      Any system has holes, and anywhere code can run, someone will try to get malicious code to run. Apple doesn't have a malware-proof review system, but their record is pretty good. For this reason, they're probably very irritated about people sneaking code through. On that particular argument, Apple's complaints are understandable. Of course, they're also annoyed about the code that was snuck through and it's not security that has them worried. You can make up your own mind how you feel about that bit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

      You can sneak past Apple until you get caught. Then they can sue and chuck you off the platform.

      Which is basically what happened to Epic

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

        "You can sneak past Apple until you get caught. Then they can sue and chuck you off the platform."

        They don't have to sue. There is a contract, and about the worst violation of the contract is submitting an app for review that changes its behaviour later (in a way that it wouldn't have been approved). In that case what happens: 1. Apple removes the app from the App Store, without any need to sue. 2. Apple can cancel the contract with the developer, without any need to sue. 3. If Apple decides that the app is a danger for users, then it can prevent the app from running on users' devices altogether. Without any need to sue. Apparently Apple doesn't think Fortnite is a danger for users.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

          Epic sued Apple.

      2. PaymentGuy

        Re: "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

        They didn't try to sneak. They planned to get 'caught' so they could formally challenge a monopoly under competition law.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: "to slide a change into the app that blatantly evaded App Review."

      Malware is restricted to the app itself. Just like with Epic & Fortnite, their hack only affected payments in that app, and in no other app. And for things like accessing the address book, the app MUST ask Apple for permission to have that feature and gets it only if there is a good reason. Malware can't access it _unless the app already had a good reason to need it_. Yes, you can do sneak things past a review, but it's impact on security is limited.

      Note that Apple hasn't removed Fortnite from users' devices, which they could have done and would have done if Fortnite was malware that hurts the customer.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Maelstorm Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Premeditated Software Development?

    The thing is though is that Epic probably had this code in the app for months before having the servers activate it. This wasn't some spur of the moment business decision. This was planned for months. Premeditated is the term I believe.

    With that being said, if Apple succeeds on getting the Unreal Engine booted from the store, that will blow up a significant share of the gaming industry. It won't be just Epic, it will be every game that uses the Unreal Engine. In fact, the judge actually cited that argument when issuing the preliminary restraining order. It's one thing to screw your self, it's something completely different when you take down not only yourself, but everyone that uses your products too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Premeditated Software Development?

      Apple hasn’t threatened other AppStore users who have software components provided by Epic.

      They have revoked access to Epic’s license to use XCode and signing certificates (everything associated with an Apple Developer account)

      Epic are free to develop for Linux and Windows and their customers can compile the Unreal code for iOS.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Premeditated Software Development?

        Would you pay lots of money for an SDK that the supplier hasn't even been compiled for your target operating system?

        If so, I have a bridge for sale.

        Apple regularly break macOS and iOS APIs. A lot of the work of 3rd party developers is spent fixing these unnecessary regressions and deliberate breakages.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Premeditated Software Development?

          That isn’t Apple’s problem.

    2. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Re: Premeditated Software Development?

      The Unreal Engine is developed under a different account than Epic’s games. I don’t even think it is provided as signed binary to other developers. It isn’t in the store as an item that can be downloaded. The risk from a developer point of view is that it will become unsupported and increasingly stale (I.e.not tracking changes in iOS).

  8. Maelstorm Bronze badge
    Joke

    Obligatory Joke:

    In Soviet Russia, you don't ride the trojan horse, the trojan horse rides you...rubber and all.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fanboi alert

    It seems someone alerted the apple fanbois to this article!

    Gotta admire their dedication, however misplaced!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fanboi alert

      Yeah, my thinking exactly. Though the move by Epic was epically bad as well. Yeah, a breach of contract. Premeditated? Sure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fanboi alert

        I love Apple.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fanboi alert

          When Microsoft were still being evil, Apple were great fun to watch. Without Jobs they are uninspiring...

  10. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    The thing is...

    Maybe Epic has a point in that it's well known that Apple enforces it rules in strange and bizarre ways from time to time (like kicking out a well established app because they're bringing out they're own).

    If Apple behaved consistently, and I don't know, took less money on the purchases but charged more for dev licenses (for example) that might balance things out.

    That said both sides haven't been honest here and most likely the only winners will be the lawyers..

    1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: The thing is... Apple don't want the responsibility

      Apple could charge more for dev kit, and for access to their walled garden, but then they'd have to take onboard liability for those services.

      I'm a little surprised that they are going so hard after the Unreal Engine, given that it's already been demonstrated to have evaded Apple's security reviews. By saying Unreal is a potential Trojan they are tacitly admitting that the walled garden isn't secure and does allow developers to insert unauthorized features.

      Which kind of undermines their reasoning that developers have to pay 30% to get access to the benefits provided by the system.

      "It costs us money to implement a walled garden, which is why we charge 30%"

      "Epic managed to get a Trojan approved that threatens the security of your children's data."

      Maybe Apple needs to charge 50% so they can do the job properly...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two sets of arrogant self-entitled narcissists have a public whinge at each other...

    ...just like every day on social media then.

    Moving on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two sets of arrogant self-entitled narcissists have a public whinge at each other...

      the whinge has a purpose though. I'm absolutely sure both whingers have thought long and hard how to play the social dysfunction media card in this war over big, big money. Remember, people's choices are not driven by calculation, but emotions, so they play on emotions. Both are trying hard to win the hearts and minds. Once decided, the winner gains more street cred and ultimately, more money then those with fewer "supporters". People are so easy to play sometimes :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two sets of arrogant self-entitled narcissists have a public whinge at each other...

        Good point.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge
    Meh

    AFAICS, the only rule potentially at stake here is the one that says; "All your profit are belong to us."

  13. Uplink

    Did Google back off?

    The Apple saga may take a while more to develop, but did Google back off on this?

    I'm asking because I see that Tinder is offering direct CC payments for their wares at a discount on Google Play, but not on Apple App Store.

    Yet Epic's stuff isn't back in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did Google back off?

      I don’t thing Google’s policies are particularly different to Apple’s. No one cares about suing Google for some reason: it’s always Apple.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Did Google back off?

        Nice (online) business you've got there. Shame if something was to happen to it, like not being able to be found with a search engine...

    2. FordPrefect

      Re: Did Google back off?

      I think google and apple have the same policies if its purchased via the app it has to go through there store. However you have always been able to pay direct through a browser. For example with kindle and the amazon app you can't buy ebooks, however if you open chrome or safari on your mobile or tablet you can still purchase direct from amazon.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Did Google back off?

        Same with Apple - you have always been able to pay through the browser.

        1. jwatkins

          Re: Did Google back off?

          Maybe in the next version iOS Safari will insist you use ApplePay? And since you can't use any other browser...

    3. Spacedinvader
      WTF?

      Re: Did Google back off?

      You pay money to Tinder? Thought it was a dating app not a pimp...

  14. Maximum Delfango
    IT Angle

    There questions

    1. Has anyone thought of the children?

    2. Should I be wearing a mask?

    3. What will this do to house prices in my area?

    The answers to the above will determine how much I actually care.

    1. MisterHappy

      Re: There questions

      1. Has anyone thought of the children?

      ..........Apple has but mostly as a source of future revenue.

      2. Should I be wearing a mask?

      .......... Probably when you are in an enclosed area that is open to the public.

      3. What will this do to house prices in my area?

      .......... Depends where you live but unless you are planning on selling anyway it's not important.

      The answers to the above will determine how much I actually care.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There questions

        "1. Has anyone thought of the children?

        ..........Apple has but mostly as a source of future revenue."

        Not to mention as a source of cheap labour....

  15. Combustable Lemon

    No "Good Guys" here

    This is just a scrap between 2 large corps that both have the utmost contempt for their users.

    That said I have no real like for Apple and their iCrap but you only have to consider that Epic is actually owned by Tencent, look into their conduct within the pc gaming space of late and you soon realise this is a case they don't deserve to win. They have been the very definition of anti-consumer in so many ways over the last couple of years from re-igniting exclusivity deals in the pc games space (many of which were games that were funded via Kickstarter and promised on steam and/or DRM free only to later then be Epic store exclusive) to their actual Epic store application stealing and sending users machine data.

    It seems to me that the 30% cost that Apple charge is the cost of access to their market of Apple devices. If you don't think that cost is worth it then you are free to not list it on that store but as we all know Epic has been making millions from being on that store, the store that they didn't help build, to deliver their product to devices that they didn't help build. You could argue the cost of the phones already covered that investment and it probably did. It's interesting that Epic made this change both on Google play and Apple's store at the same time, but the lawsuit is only against Apple. I think this is because they believe they can get a win against apple and then force Google to comply with the same ruling. If they took this up against Google as well or instead of then they would have to explain why users can't just install the APK and not use the store.

    I’ve got no love for either of them, I’d happily see both companies knocked down a few pegs.

    1. Si 1

      Re: No "Good Guys" here

      I've seen it suggested that Epic didn't expect Google to boot them off the Play Store which is why the lawsuit and pre-meditated media campaign were all targeted only at Apple. Of course it could just be it's because Apple is where they make most of their money (apparently a significant percentage of Fortnite players are on iOS) and aren't too bothered about what happens on Android.

      I was also surprised to see Microsoft file some sort of notice that they support Epic's case when they also charge 30% for digital games on the Xbox store. That seems like something that could come back to bite them in the future...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Epic should call their bluff

    Remove unreal engine from Apple store.

    Developers would go to supporting Android and PC based only.

    Children, who used to play unreal based games on iPhones and iPads will be pestering their parents to buy them Android tablets and probably Samsung phones...

    Apple would have to come back to Epic with their tail between their legs and negotiate a decent working partnership/agreement.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Epic should call their bluff

      "Remove unreal engine from Apple store."

      The unreal engine is not on the Apple store. Epic needs a developer account to do serious development, but since they sell this to other developers, they don't need a developer account to put it on the app store because it doesn't go there.

      I could in principle do my job without my employer's developer account by using my private one, which would be slightly inconvenient and of course impossible to put the app on the store; how legal that would be I don't know.

  17. Matthew Taylor

    Reducing our 30% cut from the Apple store will not only cause Global Warming and Covid 19, but may well cause the Earth to crash into the sun. Won't SOMEONE think of the shareholders, err I mean children?

    1. IanTP
      Pint

      Someone had a sense of humour failure, here's a thumbs up and a pint.

      -->

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    From what others have said on here Epic were allowed to accept payments from outside the Fornite app using a browser etc?

    If this is the case then why risk getting booted from the app store, just use nudge techniques to push the users to go to a browser to purchase by offering extras over paying through the app via Apple payments. After all offering extra guns, outfits or whatever doesn't actually cost Epic anything extra as it all just virtual items.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      "From what others have said on here Epic were allowed to accept payments from outside the Fornite app using a browser etc?"

      Yes, but keep in mind that they're not allowed to mention that possibility in the app let alone actually send people there. If their users find it on their own, it works. They're also not allowed to make it cheaper on their site. If they did any of those things, that would also be a breech of their contract and they'd end up in the same situation they are in now. Apple jealously guards that revenue stream and they're pretty clear about how much they're not willing to take from devs.

  19. MOH

    Aren't Apple actually arguing against themselves?

    Hang on. So Apple are arguing that they should be entitled to preserve the sanctity of their App store and its 30% cut, which is justified because they vet apps in order to protect their customers' data (and children's data!).

    And that they have the right to kick Epic off the store, because Epic submitted (and Apple approved) a wildly popular app which contained an entire payment mechanism as a Trojan horse .... thus demonstrating that Apple's much vaunted scrutiny isn't nearly as thorough as they claim.

    At least Epic's hidden functionality was clearly designed to be very publicly visible once activated and spark a confrontation with Apple.

    How many other apps might there be on the app store which secretly harvest customers' data (and children's data!).

    If anything, Apple's line of argument just proves that the security they supposedly provide doesn't actually exist, and thus the 30% is completely unjustified?

  20. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Choose!

    Want to play Epic games? Tell Apple to go **** themselves.

    Want to have an Apple phone? Tell Epic to go **** themselves.

    Want to play Epic games on an Apple phone? Go **** yourself dreamer.

    BRING ON THE DOWNVOTES! <LOL>

  21. JavaJester

    The Lady Doth Protest Too Much Methinks

    Absent evidence that Epic is using Unreal Engine to sabotage the iThingy, this looks like lawyer BS to try to get leverage over Epic to bring them to heel.

  22. RudyF

    30% is highway robbery. No, 30% is fair

    Has somebody actually done the numbers on this? It's very doubtful that Apple, Google actually provide a breakdown in their financials.

    But surely a court can force the App store profit/loss statement into the open, can't they (like that Idiot's tax returns, eh?)

    I think it's about time they do.

    1. MOH

      Re: 30% is highway robbery. No, 30% is fair

      Fairly sure Apple regularly publish the amount they've paid out to App store app owners, so from that you can get a ballpark of how much revenue they've made (not everything will be a 70/30 split, but most of it will).

      Obviously development/support costs might be harder to find, but from the insane number of billions revenue last time round, I think whatever figure you choose to make up isn't going to make a massive dent in the profits.

      (disclaimer: I might be thinking of Google for all of this, but I think it's Apple. Or both)

  23. knarf

    Weird down vote on everything Not Pro Apple

    Ever notice ever when Reg runs a story and anytime anyone say anything negative against apple it weirdly get an unfair share of downvotes.

    So who is this

    1) FanBios

    2) Bad Actors

    Would be good to see the stats for vote and see how they vote on other apple posts or non apple posts.

    Downvote away you sad little critters.

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