Google has countersued Epic Games over the validity of Fortnite’s ban on the Google Play Store for Android devices. Citing a wilful breach of contract to kickstart Epic’s legal battles with the two biggest smartphone platform holders, Google is effectively following in Apple’s footsteps in countering Epic’s arguments.
The countersuit sees Google claim that Epic knowingly breached the terms of contract that Fortnite was submitted to the Play Store under. In an update to the app, Epic added a new payment method that was not the Google Play payment system mandated for all in-app purchases, defying the contract.
Google is now seeking compensation for this, stating that “Epic has alternatively been unjustly enriched at Google’s expense.” So, Google is now demanding that they are compensated from whatever Epic made through this external payment system, when used with Fortnite downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Google is now able to lean on the precedent set by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers in the Epic vs. Apple case. While Epic was able to win one argument that will see Apple forced to remove anti-steering measures on the App Store (unless they successfully appeal before 9th December) and allow app developers to link to alternative payment methods on external websites, they lost on every other count, whether in trying to determine Apple’s control over the App Store to be monopolistic, in trying to force Apple to allow Fortnite to return to their store, and in Apple’s right to punish those that break their contracts.
Epic wilfully broke their contract with Apple and had to pay Apple a 30% of everything made through their alternative payment method, and Google can expect a similar result from their countersuit.
The main difference between Epic’s arguments with Apple and Google is that Android does allow for ‘sideloading’ of apps from other websites and storefront, something that is not possible on iPhone. Google states that “Consumers and developers don’t have to use Google Play, they choose to use it when given a choice among Android app stores and distribution channels. Google supports that choice through Android itself, Google Play’s policies, and Google’s agreements with developers and device manufacturers.”
It’s still possible that Google could be found to have acted in an anti-competitive fashion, though. The Epic-Google lawsuit has revealed documents that allege Google attempted to buy Epic in order to remove their potential threat to the App Store, that they also considered trying to buy Tencent’s minority stake in the company, and more.
Source: Court Listener (PDF)