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Apple flips Epic Games ban less than 24 hours after the EU opened an investigation

Round 10: Watching Apple and Epic duke it out for the past four years causes one to wonder if they will ever get along. Their very public US court bout is long past, with neither feeling like the victor. As the EC bears down on Apple, the boxing match continues, with Cupertino throwing punches to defend its walled garden and Epic hiding behind the referee hoping for a low-blow penalty point.

Two days ago, Apple revoked Epic Games Sweden’s developer license, forbidding it from releasing iOS software regardless of whether it submitted it to the App Store or an off-platform European marketplace. The action seemed retaliatory because it fell hot on the heels of Epic, announcing its intention to launch a European iOS app store now that the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) is in effect.

On Thursday, less than one full day after Apple banned Epic’s Sweden branch, the European Commission (EC) said it opened an investigation into that matter and others pertaining to Apple’s compliance with the DMA. The investigation was actually a long time coming as developers – primarily led by Epic – have been bemoaning Cupertino’s recent policy changes regarding DMA compliance for weeks.

As swiftly as the EC opened its investigation, Apple performed an about-face, reinstating Epic’s Swedish developer’s license. Epic claims that the 180 happened because Apple knew its move was a “serious violation of the DMA.”

“Apple has told us and committed to the European Commission that they will reinstate our developer account,” Epic wrote. “This sends a strong signal to developers that the European Commission will act swiftly to enforce the Digital Markets Act and hold gatekeepers accountable.”

An Apple spokesperson framed the turnabout as a compromise between the long-feuding companies.

“Following conversations with Epic, they have committed to follow the rules, including our DMA policies [emphasis TechSpot],” an Apple spokesperson told Engadget. “As a result, Epic Sweden AB has been permitted to re-sign the developer agreement and accepted into the Apple Developer Program.”

The reinstatement means Epic can continue with plans to open an alternative European iOS store. It promised to do so while taking a possibly premature victory lap.

“We are moving forward as planned to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS in Europe,” its blog post gushed. “Onward!”

It’s odd for Tim Sweeney to pop the cork on the champaign, knowing his company just agreed to comply with Apple’s DMA policies before the EC has reviewed them. Only weeks ago, Sweeney and Spotify criticized those rules for adding “unaffordable fees” to sales outside the App Store. These claims were patently false, which is likely why Epic readily agreed to pay them under the condition of reinstating Sweden.

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