Epic Games takes Google to court with antitrust claims over Play Store fees, arguing company faces ‘no meaningful competition’
Epic Games brought its crusade to open up mobile app stores to court once again on Monday in a lawsuit against Google, claiming the firm acts as a monopoly by imposing its 30 percent commission on in-app purchases through the Google Play Store.
The company removed its popular game Fortnite from the Apple and Google app stores in 2020, arguing their fees were “taxes” on developers.
Google is planning to present counterclaims that Epic violated its contract with the company by introducing additional payment meethods in Fortnite for Android and Apple devices.
“Epic’s deceitful conduct unjustly enriched Epic at Google’s expense,” Google said in a filing.
App store dispute
Epic lost on most of its arguments in a non-jury trial against Apple over its App Store in 2021, with the judge rejecting the idea of Apple as a monopoly, although the judge did allow apps to direct users to alternative forms of payment.
Apple and Epic have both asked the US Supreme Court to revisit that case.
Epic is seeking to force Google to allow greater diversity of app stores on Android and to provide users with more options for payment processing on in-app purchases, but is not seeking monetary damages.
Google argues it does allow third-party app stores, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Store, allows users to download apps directly from the internet and cites a pilot programme in 35 countries called “user choice billing” that allows alternative forms of payment within apps.
But Epic says Google has arranged through contracts with device makers and app developers to ensure its Play Store remains dominant on Android, citing for instance a $360 million (£293m) payment to Activision to keep its apps in its store.
‘No meaningful competition’
Google also imposes restrictive financial conditions on developers who bypass its payment methods, Epic argues.
“As a result of its anticompetitive acts, Google faces no meaningful competition or threat of competition,” Epic said in a court filing.
The arguments are similar to those of the US government in a separate antitrust trial against Google currently ongoing in Washington, DC, in which the Department of Justice is citing contracts with device makers and telecoms companies making Google the default search engine.
The case has enough differences to Epic’s lawsuit against Apple that the outcome is not certain, including the fact that the San Francisco trial is being held before a jury after Google failed in an attempt last week to have Judge James Donato hear the case by himself.