They say adversity makes strange bedfellows and that seems to be what happened between Epic Games and Microsoft. The former has initiated a high-profile legal and publicity battle primarily with Apple (and also Google) over App Store business practices, particularly the 30% tax on in-app purchases and forcing in-app purchases in the first place. Apple, naturally bit back with a bit more teeth and Microsoft is voicing support for Epic Games but only in a very limited sense.
Microsoft filed an amicus brief to show its legal support for Epic Games’ request for a temporary restraining order that would stop Apple from effectively cutting off support for games using Unreal Engine on both iOS and macOS. This was part of Apple’s sanctions after Epic Games tried to bypass the App Store’s in-app purchasing system with Fortnite’s latest update.
Epic has painted this threat by Apple as simple and unjust retaliation for suing it in court over its alleged monopolistic practices in the App Store. Apple’s sanction would effectively leave hundreds if not thousands of game developers unsupported on its platforms, which is an even bigger problem on iOS where users would have no other App Store to get their apps and games from. This is the scenario that Microsoft wants to avoid, hoping to get the court to grant Epic Games its injunction while the bigger drama plays out in court.
Curiously, Microsoft is rather silent on the lawsuit that started it all and hasn’t issued any statement in support of either company. Microsoft itself has recently experienced first-hand Apple’s App Store policies when its xCloud game streaming services was disallowed on iOS. It would have definitely been an opportunity for Microsoft to get some leverage but is most likely still treading carefully.
Apple probably doesn’t really want Unreal Engine games to suddenly vanish from its App Stores, given how a significant number of games, big and small, use it. It is still probably hoping that Epic Games would cave in to its demands for the sake of its customers but neither company seems willing to yield even a little ground.