Epic Games Targets Google Play in Antitrust Case


Summary

After failing to convince the court that Apple App Store is an illegal monopoly, Epic Games is now taking on Google Play in court. The outcome of this antitrust case could mean more favorable terms for Android app developers, and it marks another significant chapter in the battle between tech giants and developers over revenue-sharing terms.

The maker of the popular video game Fortnite, Epic Games, has taken Google to court in an antitrust case similar to its previous lawsuit against Apple. Epic alleges that Google violated federal antimonopoly law by requiring app developers to channel customer payments through Google Play, allowing the internet giant to take a cut of the revenue.

“Epic is going into the trial alone after other plaintiffs dropped out.”

What is at Stake?

If Epic emerges victorious, it could result in more favorable terms for Android app developers. However, the outcome is far from certain. Epic entered the trial alone after other plaintiffs, including Match Group, owner of dating apps Tinder and Hinge, dropped out.

Last month, Match Group withdrew as a plaintiff after Google agreed to allow its users to make in-app purchases through other payment channels. A group of 52 state attorneys general also reached a settlement with Google in a parallel case in September.

Google’s Response

Google contests the allegations, arguing that Google Play faces competition from the Apple App Store and is, therefore, not a monopoly. Furthermore, the company asserts that requiring a cut of revenue from apps distributed through Google Play is a legitimate business practice.

“Epic simply wants all the benefits of Android in Google Play without having to pay for any of them,” said Wilson White, vice president of government affairs and public policy for Google.

Epic’s previous lawsuit against Apple

Epic Games had previously sued Apple over similar allegations. Despite the court ruling 2021 that Epic had failed to prove Apple as an illegal monopolist, the judge ordered Apple to open its App Store so app developers could “steer” customers to alternative payment systems. Both Epic and Apple have since appealed to the Supreme Court.

Previous Legal Challenges

Google has faced previous legal challenges over its app store. Last year, it settled a lawsuit from app developers who felt the Google Play revenue-sharing terms were unfair. As part of the settlement, Google set up a $90 million fund for U.S. app developers who made less than $2 million in annual revenue between 2016 and 2021.

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