Hot on the heels of Fortnite’s removal from the iOS App Store, Google has now removed Fortnite from the Google Play Store for introducing a direct payment method that bypasses and undercuts Google’s standard payment process.
In a statement picked up by The Verge, Google said:
The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. 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.
Not playing favourites, Epic have also sued Google and twisted their own history against them, writing in the suit:
In 1998, Google was founded as an exciting young company with a unique motto: ‘Don’t Be Evil. Twenty-two years later, Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize.
Epic Games are tilting at the windmills of the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, with a carefully staged publicity stunt within their hyper popular battle royale game Fortnite that’s allowed them to highlight and legally protest the fees that both stores charge for processing purchases.
As with Apple, Google have determined that games must use their system for in-app purchases. The guidelines clearly state, “Developers offering products within a game downloaded on Google Play or providing access to game content must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment.”
Both iOS and Google charge 30% for all purchases and transactions made through the store, with preferential treatment and exceptions made in certain circumstances. The direct payment option that Epic introduced say them pushing a 20% reduction to end users, with Epic now theoretically coming out 10% ahead, though the company now has to handle the associated credit card fees, currency conversions, and so on.
Epic and Google have quite publically not seen eye-to-eye over this in the past, with Epic deciding to pull Fortnite from the Google Play Store in August 2018 and start to distribute the app themselves, which is possible through being able to side-load apps from third-party sources on Android. However, Epic decided to return to the Play Store in April, issuing a statement that was already quite huffy.
Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.
Another key player in all of this is Microsoft, who will offer game streaming to Android with Game Pass Ultimate this September. While the app will be available on Google Play, you will not be able to purchase DLC via the app because Google will want to take a 30% cut. Obviously that’s a fair bit better than not having an app at all, as on iOS (which Microsoft are not happy about), but you will be able to make DLC purchases via the app if installed from the Samsung Galaxy Store… who obviously have a competitive vested interest in playing nicely with big names to try and shave off some market share from Google.
It’s all a tricky situation, with various legislative bodies investigating Google, Apple and others for anti-competitive practices, but Epic have really just thrown a cat among the pigeons, hoping to harness the rage of gamers to attack and pressurise their erstwhile opponents.
Source: The Verge