Fortnite Maker Epic Games’ Antitrust Battle With Google Begins Today


Fortnite creator Epic Games is set to go to trial with Google in an ongoing antitrust battle, alleging that Google engages in anticompetitive behavior with its Android app store, Google Play, and its commission structure. Unlike its battle with Apple, Epic cannot claim that there is no other way to load apps onto Android devices, as Android allows for sideloading apps. However, Epic will argue that Google makes the sideloading process cumbersome and that there are anticompetitive agreements between Google, device manufacturers, and developers.

Key Takeaway

Epic Games is taking Google to court, alleging anticompetitive behavior regarding its Android app store and commission structure. The trial will focus on whether Google engages in practices that restrict competition and hinder alternative app stores, as well as examining the sideloading process on Android devices. The outcome of this trial will have significant implications for the future of app stores and their commission structures.

Epic’s Legal Strategy

Epic plans to bring claims under Sections 1 and 2 of U.S. antitrust law, the Sherman Act, as well as California’s anticompetitive laws. It aims to argue that Google restrains competition in two markets: the distribution of apps to Android users and the market for payment processing solutions for content inside Android apps.

Google’s Defense

Google will counter Epic’s arguments by pointing out that it has introduced a new option for app developers called User Choice Billing, which reduces the standard commission for companies using their own payment processing solution. Google will also claim that its commissions fund the development of new features and controls for user safety and app discovery. It will emphasize that Android supports competitive app stores like Samsung’s Galaxy Store and Amazon’s Appstore, highlighting that it is not the sole app store in the market.

The Competitive Landscape

Epic will attempt to demonstrate that Google makes it difficult for alternative app stores to succeed and reach consumers. It will also argue that Google’s agreements with OEMs prevent them from modifying Android to allow for frictionless downloading of apps outside of Google Play. Epic will also highlight agreements between Google and Android app developers, such as the “Project Hug” initiative, which Epic claims pays competitors not to distribute their apps on Android outside of the Play Store.

The Sideloading Debate

While Google allows apps to be sideloaded on Android devices, Epic will claim that the process is overly complex for end users, with multiple steps and warning screens. Epic will also allege that Google hid items from discovery by allowing “off the record” chats. Google will counter these claims by stating that it has provided the court with extensive chat logs and documents.

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