Dec 11, 2023 - Technology

Epic Games wins lawsuit against Google's Play Store

Illustration of a gavel with the Google logo on the block

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Google's Play Store violates antitrust laws, a federal jury found Monday, deciding a lawsuit filed by Epic Games.

Why it matters: For years, Google and Apple have argued that their app stores' rules and restrictions exist to benefit consumers. This decision, if it survives the appeal process, could upend how the two major mobile operating systems control the distribution of third-party apps on devices.

Details: The jury agreed with Epic Games on every question it was asked to consider:

  • "[T]hat Google has monopoly power in the Android app distribution markets and in-app billing services markets, that Google did anticompetitive things in those markets, and that Epic was injured by that behavior," per The Verge.
  • "[The jury] decided Google has an illegal tie between its Google Play app store and its Google Play Billing payment services, too, and that its distribution agreement, Project Hug, deals with game developers and deals with OEMs were anticompetitive too."

What they're saying: "Victory over Google! After 4 weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. The Court's work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone's support and faith! Free Fortnite!" Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney posted on X (formerly Twitter) following the verdict.

The other side: "We plan to challenge the verdict," Wilson White, Google's vice president for government affairs and public policy, said in a statement. "The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles. We will continue to defend the Android business model..."

Catch up fast: In 2020, Epic updated its popular Fortnite game on iOS and Android, adding options for players to buy virtual items directly from Epic, bypassing the phone-makers' 30% cut on in-app purchases.

  • Apple and Google both kicked Epic off their stores, saying Epic had violated their policies.
  • Epic sued both companies, saying their control of the stores on their phone constituted an anti-competitive monopoly.
  • Epic lost most of its case against Apple at trial and on appeal, and in September it asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.
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