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Epic Games sues Google, Apple for alleged app store monopolies

Epic Games filed suit against Google for alleged monopolistic and anticompetitive app store practices, just hours after Fortnite was taken down from the Google Play Store and the gaming studio filed a lawsuit against Apple on similar grounds. Google’s antitrust behavior, Epic Games argues, breaks Android’s original “open ecosystem” promises and eliminates consumer choice.

In its complaint filed Thursday, August 13, Epic Games says that such anticompetitive policies, which violate both the Sherman Act and California’s Cartwright Act, have enabled Google to build a monopoly and stifled “competition in the distribution of Android apps using myriad contractual and technical barriers.”

Epic Games is taking Google to court on essentially two charges: The latter’s alleged monopoly over how Android apps are distributed and the Google Play Store’s digital goods tax that lets Google siphon off 30% of every purchase made inside an app like Fortnite. The lawsuit is largely identical to the one Epic Games filed against Apple earlier Thursday, and is the latest chapter in the gaming studio’s campaign against the companies behind the two biggest mobile platforms.

“If not for Google’s anticompetitive behavior, the Android ecosystem could live up to Google’s promise of open competition, providing Android users and developers with competing app stores that offer more innovation, significantly lower prices, and a choice of payment processors,” Epic Games further wrote in the lawsuit.

However, Epic Games’ battle with Google is far less intense since Android has relatively lax boundaries when compared to Apple’s walled garden on iOS. You can still install Fortnite from outside Google Play Store through alternate sources like Epic’s own sideloading launcher.

When contacted aboiut the lawsuit, a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends the company doesn’t have any further comment, and instead shared the statement Google released when it kicked Fortnite from the Play Store: “For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”

Epic Games said that it does not seek “monetary compensation” or “favorable treatment” but “injunctive relief that would deliver Google’s broken promise: An open, competitive Android ecosystem for all users and industry participants.”

Interestingly, the lawsuit also claims Google intervened and blocked a potential deal between OnePlus and Epic Games. The partnership would have allowed Epic Games to preload Fortnite on OnePlus phones and hence bypass the Google Play Store’s taxes. Epic Games adds that a similar, potential agreement with LG also couldn’t go through because the phone manufacturer had a contract “to block side downloading off Google Play Store this year.”

We’ve reached out to OnePlus and LG for confirmation and we’ll update the story when we hear back.

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