Epic Games is back at it. The creators of Fortnite have begun their trial against Google today, three years after the complaint was filed and two years after the US Justice already handed down a ruling on its equivalent trial against Apple.
They did not manage to beat Apple , but they did get the judges to force Apple to open its payment system to third parties. With Google the battle is similar. They accuse them of a monopoly with their Google Play Store and of charging an abusive rate of 30% to developers.
The trial of the creators of Fortnite against Google begins, for the collection of commissions from the Android application store
The future of Google Play is at stake. The trial revolves around the Google app store. Epic Games wants to end what they themselves call the “Google commission”, while Google argues that this rate is necessary for its application store to remain competitive, mainly against Apple’s App Store.
Epic Games’ arguments are very similar to those they once offered in the trial against Apple. In that case, the judge did not accept that Apple was therefore a monopoly, but he did force the company to open its payments ecosystem. With Google it remains to be seen if they decide in the same direction.
What can change if Epic wins. Although the precedents with Apple are not encouraging for Epic Games, a possible victory for the creators of Fortnite could change the way applications are installed on Android. Up for debate are aspects such as the charging of 30% commissions or the warning messages that are received on Android when applications are manually installed outside of Google Play.
They did not achieve a victory against Apple, but they did force them to change their payment system
A relevant difference is that, since 2022, Google Play already allows alternative payments . This was not the case when the trial began, so this change requested by Epic Games has already disappeared from the equation.
Is installing apps manually a security problem? One of the advantages of Android is that it is very easy to install applications directly through an APK . This allows you to easily bypass Google Play. However, this fact represents a security risk, as explained by Google .
“When someone downloads an app for the first time directly from a developer’s website, Android notifies the user and asks them to verify that they are doing so intentionally. We do this to ensure that users understand the risks of downloading software to their mobile device. directly from the web,” argues Google.
On the other hand, Epic explains that it is a notification only to protect its monopoly and that installing applications manually does not represent any real security danger.
Although there are other stores on Android, there is no real competition according to Epic Games. One of Epic Games’ first arguments is that 90% of Android installations were from Google Play. As much as there are other application stores such as the Samsung AppStore, the data shows that the use of the Google store is the majority.
According to Epic , this dominance is not only due to the fact that there are better applications in the Google store, but they pay other companies not to compete with them.
Apple doesn’t need to pay, Google does. Although the cases are similar, there is a big difference between the trial against Apple and this one against Google. In the first case there were no payments involved. With Android there are so-called Anti-Fragmentation Agreements (AFA), through which Google ensures that developers only build a single version of their applications for Android phones. Theoretically to avoid incompatibilities, but Epic Games argues that it is for developers to upload it only to the Play Store.
The doubt about which is the real battlefield. Another issue that will define the future of this trial is determining which is the real battlefield. If Google Play against the rest of the application stores on Android or Google Play against the AppStore.
Why is this aspect important? Mainly because of a monopoly issue. If the judges understand the two operating systems as different markets, then Google could be closer to a dominant position. On the other hand, if the real terrain is the entire mobile ecosystem, Google’s weight is less and charging the commission as compensation to compete with Apple is “justified.”
Before the end of the year the verdict. The San Francisco Court will hear the arguments of the two parties until December 4. From then on, the judges will spend a few days making a decision.
A decision is expected to be made before the end of the year. About whether Google has acted as a monopoly with Google Play and if they should make some type of change in the way Android works.