Epic Games vs. Google Lawsuit: What You Need to Know

Delta Online News

Tech companies sue each other all the time. While most of these lawsuits fly under the radar, Epic Games’ fight against Apple and Google hasn’t.

Back in the August of 2020, Epic filed lawsuits against Apple and Google. Epic Games complained that the companies have a monopoly on their respective app stores.

On the surface, the cases against Apple and Google look the same. However, when we look a little deeper, Google comes out looking much shadier.

Why Did Epic Games Sue Google?

Epic Games owns Fortnite and Fortnite makes a ton of money each year. According to its policy, Google takes up to 30% of the revenue generated by games. Epic Games didn’t like this 30% cut and attempted to bypass this by allowing players to buy in-game items directly from Epic.

Epic’s attempt to bypass the Google Play Store’s in-app purchase model violated the terms of services that all developers agree to when they host their apps on the Google Play Store. Google, in turn, removed Fortnite from the Play Store.

Related: Do You Need PlayStation Plus to Play Fortnite?

It seems Epic anticipated the removal of Fortnite and had a lawsuit ready. So, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Google complaining about monopolistic practices that go against state laws.

What Is the Current Status of Epic Game’s Lawsuit Against Google?

On 19th August 2020, Judge Donato ordered the lawsuit to be filed unredacted. In other words, Judge Donato wanted everyone to see the true nature of Epic Games’ complaint.

According to the unredacted documents, Google was extremely apprehensible to Epic Games’ move of launching Fortnite outside of the Google Play Store. The documents allege that Google feared other developers following Epic’s lead and making their games available outside the Play Store. Internal Google presentations estimated it could lose “up to $ 6B in 2022”, in Google Play revenue alone.

To minimize the risk of developers abandoning the Play Store, Google launched the “Premier Device Program” and “Project Hug”. It aimed both these projects at incentivizing developers and smartphone manufacturers to prefer the Google Play Store over other solutions.

The Premier Device Program was aimed at smartphone manufacturers to keep them from pre-installing third-party game launchers like Fortnite. Google was paying manufacturers in the Premier Device Program 12% of the search revenue instead of the usual 8%. Some manufacturers like LG and Motorola got an additional 3-6% of the money that their customers spent in the Play Store.

The Premier Device Program was a huge success for Google. The program saw OEMs like Motorola and LG commit to shipping 98% and 97% of their respective devices without third-party app stores. Other manufacturers like the Chinese BBK committed to only 70%.

Next, Project Hug saw Google give millions of dollars to game developers. Google did this to incentivize developers to keep their games on the Play Store. According to the lawsuit documents, Google cut almost 20 such deals with developers like Activision Blizzard.

Furthermore, Google even considered buying Epic Games shares from Tencent, the Chinese company that owns 40% of Epic Games. Google went as far as to suggest joining forces with Tencent to outright buy Epic.

All these alleged facts are a part of Epic Games' complaint that it filed against Google in 2020. Epic claims that these efforts stifled the growth of app stores other than the Google Play Store on Android.

Epic Games’ Case Against Google Looks Much Stronger Than the One Against Apple

The recent ruling of Epic’s lawsuit against Apple shows us that Epic needs a much stronger case if it wants to prove Google as a monopoly. And, if the complaint is accurate, Epic indeed has a stronger case against Google.

That said, having a stronger case and getting a favorable verdict are two different things. Whatever happens the result will have far-reaching consequences for mobile developers. Let’s hope those consequences are positive.

MUO – Feed