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Epic CEO fears Apple's influence over the metaverse

Credit: Epic Games

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney believes Apple is a major "roadblock in the way of Epic's vision for a metaverse."

On Thursday, Epic Games discussed its plans for the metaverse at the Game Developers Conference 2023. The company believes the metaverse should be open and that "it can't be another walled garden."

The "walled garden" statement is a direct jab at Apple. Sweeney has routinely expressed this sentiment during Epic's long battle against Apple's App Store policies.

In an interview with GameIndustry, Sweeney expanded on his concerns.

"[Apple will] either try to crush the metaverse, or extract all the profit from it. One or the other. Apple doesn't let you use a competing browser engine. So they can do the same thing with the metaverse, so [they] can say, 'you must use Apple's limited metaverse engine, you can't build your own, you can't use Unreal."

It's not clear why Sweeney believes that the Unreal Engine won't be allowed on any AR or VR implementation by Apple. It is used in iPhone and Mac development now, and it seems unlikely that it will be disallowed going forward.

"If we just build this thing in an open environment then companies can live on their merits," Sweeney added. "We very much like that because we have a history of winning on the merits when given the chance and we're terribly frustrated at markets like iOS where you just can't make an Epic Games Store for iOS because Apple says 'You can't compete with us'!"

He says that he believes robust antitrust laws are the only way forward and that Epic would lead the charge against Apple's influence on the market.

"We see them as utterly dominating this business if they're allowed to use their market power and hardware to do so. So we're fighting that. The other challenges I think can all be overcome."

Sweeney has spoken out against Apple for some time now, but his feud escalated after Fortnite got removed from the App Store. It was removed after Epic violated their developer agreement by implementing a way that users could sidestep the 30% commission fee.

Apple's mixed reality headset is rumored to launch at WWDC 2023. The yet-unannounced headset is anticipated to be a wearable visor with mixed-reality software. It would be an at-home computer capable of transporting the user to different locations for work or play.