Epic Games has filed a lawsuit against Google for antitrust infringement allegations, just hours after it saw it Fortnite dropped from the Google Play Store and iOS App Store and filed a similar lawsuit against Apple. Epic’s complaint alleges that Google’s Play Store payment restrictions constitute a monopoly, and thus a violation of Sherman and Cartwright California law.
Hit game Fortnite was removed from the Google Play Store earlier today.
When Apple’s complaint opened with a description of the company’s iconic ad in 1984, Epic’s complaint against Google focuses on the now-infamous mantra of the company “Do not do wrong.” “Twenty-two years later, Google has rejected its motto in almost a generation,” the complaint claims, “and is using its size to do harm to competitors, innovators, customers and users in a host of markets that has grown to monopolize. “
Outside the colorful opening, the two main charges are identical to Epic’s lawsuit against Apple: monopoly control over the distribution of software on phones, and monopoly control over payment systems within this program. In the case of Google, Epic is particularly concerned about the powerful role of the Google Play Store as an Android app distributor and the Play Store requirement that the expected apps use the Play Store Billing for every in-app purchase.
This case is harder to level against Google, which controls Android software less strictly than Apple for iOS. Android has long allowed the installation of third-party app stores, including the Epic Games app itself. Applications can also be diverted through direct links, without the involvement of an app store.
For years, Fortnite for Android was mostly available through this kind of side mode. The app finally arrived at the Google Play Store in April, overcoming long-standing concerns about Play Store policy to get 30 percent of all in-app purchases. “After 18 months of operation Fortnite on Android outside the Google Play Store, we have achieved a fundamental realization, “the company said at the time,” Google puts software that can be downloaded outside of Google Play at a disadvantage. “
Thursday’s lawsuit makes a similar case, arguing that Google has created the Play Store as the only possible distribution method for Android apps. “Despite its promises to make Android devices open to competition, Google has raised contractual and technological barriers that preclude competing ways of distributing apps to Android users, ensuring that the Google Play Store accounts for almost all app downloads. from app stores to Android devices. “
Reached for comment, Google stressed that Fortnite was removed from the Play Store for violating clear and predetermined rules. “For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users,” said one representative. “While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play. “
Update August 13, 9:51 PM ET: Updated with statement from Google.