Epic Games Triumphs Over Google in Antitrust Lawsuit: ‘A Win for All App Developers and Consumers Around the World’

epic games google verdict
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epic games google verdict
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Fortnite developer Epic Games has triumphed in a legal battle with Google. Photo Credit: Joshua Hoehne

Epic Games has officially triumphed in its antitrust lawsuit, centering on fees charged to Play Store developers as well as adjacent agreements, against Google.

The company behind Fortnite penned a brief release celebrating the victory, which, according to the relevant verdict form, saw a unanimous jury find Google liable for monopolization, unlawful restraint of trade, and tying alike under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Epic has for some time been advocating for – and litigating in pursuit of – retooled terms on the Play Store and Apple’s App Store. In addition to other things, the former Bandcamp owner has expressed the belief that the “30% tax” levied upon Play Store developers “stifles innovation, reduces consumer choice and inflates prices.”

Businesses such as Spotify have also supported the overarching campaign to reform digital-store policies, including by pushing for far-reaching regulatory action in the US and the EU.

Notably, though, the decidedly vocal App Store critic Spotify announced a “groundbreaking” payments deal with Google in March of 2022. And during the just-wrapped Epic-Google trial, which covered fees, terms offered to third parties in contracts, and more, components of the sweetheart agreement came to light.

Returning to the trial, filings obtained by DMN show that the involved companies had attempted to resolve the much-publicized conflict with settlement talks on the 6th and the 7th.

Held specifically between Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney as well as Android VP/GM Sameer Samat and president of global partnerships and corporate development Don Harrison (“who attended remotely for health reasons”), the first of the discussions lasted between 60 and 90 minutes, the corresponding notice shows.

Then, on the 7th, Sweeney and Google CEO Sundar Pichai met in person for “approximately 60 minutes,” per the legal document. Needless to say, neither sit down delivered a settlement.

In any event, a clear-cut resolution arrived following a relatively expedient trial, as highlighted. Per the verdict, Epic effectively demonstrated “the existence of a relevant antitrust market.” Meanwhile, the presiding juror in a handwritten description of said market identified in particular the “Android app distribution market” and the “Android in-app billing services for digital goods and services transactions,” with both covering all regions “excluding China.”

On the monopolization front, the jury further found that Google had “willfully acquired or maintained monopoly power by engaging in anticompetitive conduct” in both the mentioned markets, injuring Epic Games in the process.

Lastly, in terms of the verdict’s details, the jury determined that Google’s developer agreements, deals with “alleged competitors,” and pacts with mobile-device manufacturers constituted trade restraints and harmed Epic. And on the tying side, the jury also indicated “that Google unlawfully tied the use of the Google Play Store to the use of Google Play Billing.”

“Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic said of the decision. “It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation.”

After elaborating upon certain elements of this verdict, Epic closed by emphasizing its position that the case demonstrates “the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones, including with promising legislation.”

Among these proposed laws are the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill and the EU’s Digital Markets Act, Epic signaled.