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Epic Games Flaws Google In Antitrust Suit December 11 Verdict

Epic Games Flaws Google In Antitrust Suit December 11 Verdict

Epic Games has been on a suing spree. It has lost some and won others. Its latest winning was against Google. The jury unanimously voted in favor of Epic Games saying that Google violated antitrust policy through its billing system in Play Store and described it as an illegal monopoly.

Epic Games Flaws Google In Antitrust Suit December 11 Verdict

Epic Games filed the lawsuit in 2020 claiming the search engine giant created a monopoly with Google Play Store on Android devices because over 95% of Android apps are distributed through it. Epic’s biggest headache was that Google charged a 30% revenue share on all transactions made on any app on the Play Store—including in-app purchases.

Trouble started when Google removed Fortnite from the Play Store for directing players to buy the in-game virtual currency straight from Epic to circumvent the 30% transaction cut. Epic sued Google for its action. In response, Google countersued Epic for breach of contract.

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Also, Google mandates all the apps on the Play Store to make use of its proprietary billing system. In other words, every transaction that a developer makes must pass through Google. Apps that try to use a different payment processor besides Google are quickly removed from the platform.

In the lawsuit, Epic Games also claimed that Google offers lucrative deals to hardware manufacturers on the condition that they exclude other app stores from their devices. It is important to mention that Epic has a proprietary app store where it takes a 12% commission from all transactions.

Epic Games Flaws Google In Antitrust Suit December 11 Verdict

Unlike Google Play Store, Epic doesn’t mandate developers to use their payment processor. That means Epic will get zero commission on in-app purchases if the developer decides to use a different payment processor. All these perks make the Epic Store more enticing compared to the Play Store or Apple Store.

However, in terms of popularity, Epic Store doesn’t stand a chance against Play Store or Apple Store which have both monopolized Android and iOS devices respectively. Perhaps, Epic Games should consider making a proprietary operating system and try to get more device makers to get on board.

The last time that we threw this question to our community of readers, many believed that a 30% commission was a fair charge. According to those in this category, maintaining a platform like Apple Store or Play Store was not cheap. Also, some developers said they were pleased the platform handles things like distribution and refund so that they never have to worry about them.

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Those against the 30% cut thought it was a rip-off on the developers who do the hard work of bringing the products to the platform. According to them, without the developers, the platforms were useless. Some said the platforms were not doing enough to promote the games on their platform to justify the commission they take. It was a lengthy debate that never came to a satisfying conclusion.

How the jury voted in Epic Games antitrust lawsuit against Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Photo credit The Hill)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Photo credit: The Hill)

Epic Games filed the lawsuit at the United States District Court Northern District of California. The jury was presented with a set of questions in which they were expected to either answer yes or no in favor of Epic’s antitrust claim. The jury in their verdict said that;

  • Antitrust market exists on Android devices
  • Google signed agreements “that unreasonably restrained trade”
  • Google “willfully acquired or maintained monopoly power by engaging in anticompetitive conduct”
  • Epic was negatively impacted by Google’s violations of antitrust laws
  • Google unlawfully tied the use of the Play Store to the use of Google Play Billing

The trial started on November 3 and lasted for around four weeks before the verdict was delivered on December 11. The jury also said Google’s Project Hug initiative which offers financial incentives to developers to stay on the Play Store was anti-competitive.

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

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Epic also said the verdict highlights the “urgent need” for laws and regulations that will “address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones”. However, Google is not giving up its grip on mobile phones without a fight. The search engine giant made public its plans to challenge the verdict.

Earlier this year, Epic Games lost its antitrust suit against Apple. However, they have asked the Supreme Court to review the judgment. The win against Google is a new threat that faces Apple when the hearing begins at the Supreme Court.