Fortnite maker Epic Games considers Google Play Store reforms after antitrust win

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Fortnite video game maker Epic Games has urged a federal judge in California to force Google to open up its Play Store to more competition, after a jury found that the US tech giant had unfairly violated the rules of the game for apps on the Android mobile platform. Had misused his power as gatekeeper.

Epic presented its proposal in a court hearing before US District Judge James Donato in San Francisco on Thursday, seeking to block the Google Play Store from giving users more freedom in downloading apps and limiting Google's ability to reach agreements with device makers. Demand was made. Restrict preloading of competing app stores.

Epic said in a statement Friday that it should be allowed to bring its Epic Games Store to Android “without delay and disruption.” The company also said consumers and developers should have more control over “how they create and offer in-app purchases, free from anti-competitive charges and restrictions.”

Responding to Epic, Google said in a statement on Friday that the court filing “again shows [Epic] Just wants the benefits of Google Play without paying for it.” “Android is an open mobile platform that faces stiff competition from Apple and other competitors,” Google said.

Donato presided over a blockbuster antitrust trial that ended in a jury verdict against Alphabet-owned Google in December.

Donato is under no obligation to accept Epic's offer, and Google is likely to face a tough fight before any permanent injunction is issued. But the new filing sets up the next major test of Google's ability to impose controls on app developers and consumers.

A jury in December said Google unlawfully hindered developers' ability to freely distribute their apps outside Google's Play Store and maintained an excessively tight grip on payments for transactions within apps. Google charges an industry standard 30% commission on many apps and in-app purchases.

Google has defended its App Store practices and denied any wrongdoing. The company has a May 3 deadline to respond to Epic's proposal. Epic's lawsuit does not seek monetary compensation.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has said that Google's December settlement does not go far enough to restore Play Store competition.

North Carolina-based Epic Games is a privately held company, in which China's Tencent owned a 40% stake as of February and Walt Disney owned about a 9% stake.

Google separately agreed in December to pay $700 million to resolve state and consumer allegations over its Play Store restrictions.

The company then said it was expanding the ability for app and game developers to offer consumers alternative billing options for in-app purchases. Google said it has tested “Choice Billing” in the US for more than a year.

Google has said it will appeal the December antitrust jury decision, and it could separately challenge any reforms ordered by Donato, which could drag the case out for years.

A similar case was filed by Epic against Apple in 2020, challenging its hold on its App Store, which is also being fought after a non-jury trial and appeal.

© Thomson Reuters 2024


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