Epic Games, the creator of the widely popular video game Fortnite, has initiated a legal showdown against Google in a San Francisco court. The company accuses Google of behaving like a monopoly by imposing a 30% commission on in-app purchases through the Google Play store. In a notable twist, Epic Games argues that Google has strayed from its founding principles, epitomised by its “Don’t be Evil” motto adopted in 1998.
Google, on the other hand, contends that multiple alternative methods are available for downloading apps on Android phones, and it consistently denies allegations of monopolistic practices. The company firmly maintains that it competes with Apple, rejecting the notion that Google Play represents a monopoly.
This trial is the latest development in the ongoing anti-trust confrontations faced by Google, as it concurrently battles a lawsuit in Washington where the US Department of Justice has accused the tech giant of maintaining an illegal monopoly in the search domain.
The claims raised by Epic Games may evoke a sense of déjà vu, as the company previously challenged Apple in 2021 with a strikingly similar case. In 2020, Epic Games removed Fortnite from both Google Play and the App Store, characterising the associated fees as “taxes” imposed on developers. In that case, the presiding judge ruled against the notion of Apple as a monopoly but permitted apps to guide users away from Apple’s in-app charges.
Epic Games now posits that Google has “eliminated competition in the distribution of Android apps through an array of contractual and technical obstacles.” Nevertheless, Google maintains that Android, as a major mobile platform, offers developers numerous avenues for app distribution, asserting that it provides more competition in the realm of applications than any other operating system.
As this legal battle unfolds, it adds another layer to the ongoing scrutiny of tech giants regarding their practices and their influence over the digital ecosystem.