Epic Games Wants Apple Held In Contempt Over 'Blatant' App Store Ruling Violation

Apple character from a mock 1984 commercial by Epic Games.
Even the Hatfields and McCoys eventually settled their differences and ended their long-running feud, which lasted from 1863 to 1891 (a truce signed by both families in 2003 officially put the matter to rest). In the modern era, we get to witness a different kind of feud, between Epic Games and Apple. Fortunately it's not anywhere near as bloody, but it is certainly contentious and full of twists and turns. The latest development involves Epic Games filing a motion to enforce an injunction and hold Apple in contempt of court.

What's at issue is Apple reluctantly abiding by the European Union's ruling that Apple must allow apps to link users to outside payment sources, which would therefore enable developers to sidestep hefty App Store commissions. Otherwise, Apple would be in violation of the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) that went into effect earlier this month.

On the surface, Apple complied with updated rules and policies for developers in Europe. However, Apple made waves by terminating Epic's developer account in the wake of the ruling, stating that Epic is "verifiably untrustworthy." This didn't last long ,as the threat of legal action prompted Apple to quickly reverse its decision.

"Following conversations with Epic, they have committed to follow the rules, including our DMA policies. As a result, Epic Sweden AB has been permitted to re-sign the developer agreement and accepted into the Apple Developer Program," Apple said in a statement.

If you thought that would be the end of it, think again. In a new court filing, Epic accuses of Apple of being in "blatant violation" of a court injunction.

"Its new App Store policies continue to impose prohibitions on developers that this Court found unlawful and enjoined. Moreover, Apple's new policies introduce new restrictions and burdens that frustrate and effectively nullify the relief the Court ordered," Epic states in its motion.

According to the motion, it should have been "easy" for Apple to comply with the injunction—all it needed to do, from Epic's vantage point, was strip out "illegal anti-steering language" from the App Store guidelines. Instead, Epic argues that Apple "chose a markedly different path."

Tim Sweeney criticizing Apple and Google on X/Twitter.

One of Epic's issues is a "new fee" and "slew of new rules" that collectively make links "commercially unusable." Epic claims this outright subverts the entire purpose of the injunction.

"If Apple is allowed to tax out-of-app purchases, those purchases could never constrain Apple's pricing of IAP [in-app purchases], and developers and consumers would not have any reason to use these alternative transacting options," Epic argues.

Epic also takes issue with Apple prohibiting the use of "buttons" or "other calls to action" as it relates to steering users to outside payments. And lastly, Epic calls out Apple for a policy on multiplatform services that prevent developers from encouraging users within the app to pay for content by any other method than an in-app purchase.

"Apple's goal is clear: to prevent alternatives from constraining the supracompetitive fees it collects on purchases of digital goods and services. Apple's so-called compliance is a sham," the motion states (PDF). "Epic therefore seeks an order (i) finding Apple in civil contempt, (ii) requring Apple to promptly bring its policies into compliance with the injunction, and (iii) requiring Apple to remove all anti-steering provisions."

We'll have to wait and see how this plays out. In the meantime, feel free to refill your bucket of popcorn, as it doesn't look like this feud is coming to a swift end.