The unredacted lawsuit Epic filed against Google has been released, shedding light on Epic’s legal fight with the tech giant.
The lawsuit outlines Google’s anti-competitive practices, largely based on Epic’s experience with Fortnite on the Google Play Store. One complaint is Google Play Store’s monopoly as the only app store on Android devices. When Epic tried to avoid the Play Store, they were told by phone manufacturers that “[their] contract with Google did not allow it to enable the direct distribution of apps, and that the OEM could not offer any functionality that would install and update Epic apps except through the Google Play Store.” App developers, thus, are forced to use the Play Store without alternatives.
This is an issue largely because Google takes a 30% cut of transactions all transactions. Payment for in-game purchases are also subject to this fee, with developers given no opportunity to use other payment processing methods.
Epic, for example, provided Fortnite users a way to directly pay for its microtransactions and avoid the fee altogether. Google subsequently removed the game from the Play Store and prevented those who have the game from getting updates.
According to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, Google also had side arrangement with major publishers by “rebating 5% of store fees” to prevent competition.
Perhaps most devious of all, when Epic decided to launch Fortnite on the Samsung Galaxy Store rather than on the Play store, Google took notice of the threat to Google Play Store’s monopoly. The company approached Epic and essentially offered the 5% store fee rebate. After Epic rejected the deal, Google considered reaching out to Tencent “to either (a) buy Epic shares from Tencent to get more control over Epic… [or] (b) join up with Tencent to buy 100% of Epic.”
In the lawsuit, Epic champions itself as a defender and a leader for a more open game industry. However, it is clear that Epic also stands to gain from being able to bring its storefront to more platforms. It is also clear that Epic’s bottom line is the more important than the health of the game industry, as their recent blatant plagiarism of Among Us could have been done in collaboration with developers Innersloth, but instead was done alone in a way that takes away consumers from Among Us.
The full lawsuit can be read here.