Epic Games has filed suit against Google over alleged antitrust violations, just hours after being dropped from the both the Play Store and iOS App store and filing a similar lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit alleges that Google’s payment restrictions on the play store constitute a monopoly and thus a violation of both the Sherman Act and California’s Cartwright Act.
Epic’s hit game Fortnite was removed from the Google Play Store earlier today.
Where the Apple complaint opened with a description of the company’s iconic 1984 ad, Epic’s complaint against Google focuses on that company’s now-infamous “Don’t Be Evil” mantra. “Twenty-two years later, Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought,” the complaint alleges, “and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize.”
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The two primary complaints are identical to the suit against Apple: monopoly control over the distribution of software to phones, and monopoly control over payment systems within that software.
That suit is more difficult to level against Google, which controls Android software less strictly than Apple does for iOS. Android allows for the installation of third party app stores, including Epic’s own Epic Games App — and apps can also be sideloaded through direct links, without the involvement of a third party app store.
For years, Fortnite for Android was primarily available through this kind of sideloading. The app finally arrived on the Google Play Store in April, overcoming longstanding concerns over the Play Store policy of taking 30 percent of all in-app purchases.
“After 18 months of operating Fortnite on Android outside of the Google Play Store, we’ve come to a basic realization,” the company said at the time, “Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage.”
The lawsuit makes a similar case, arguing that Google has established the Play Store as the only viable distribution method for Android apps. “Notwithstanding its promises to make Android devices open to competition, Google has erected contractual and technological barriers that foreclose competing ways of distributing apps to Android users, ensuring that the Google Play Store accounts for nearly all the downloads of apps from app stores on Android devices.”