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IPFS News Link • Courtroom and Trials

Google Loses On Every Count In Play Store Antitrust Case With Epic Games

•, by Matt Stoller

Google is facing multiple antitrust cases in different parts of its business, this is the first trial to reach a decision. So what happened? And what does it mean going forward?

Three years ago, Epic's CEO Tim Sweeney launched a dramatic legal assault against Apple and Google for monopolizing the on-ramp to the phone. This case didn't come from the left or right, but from the commercial world. It was part of what I called a civil war in American business, as smaller companies across the economy began marshaling against dominant big tech goliaths.

Epic sued both Apple and Google to break their ironclad control over app stores. Here's the Wall Street Journal summarizing the case:

Epic's case centered on Google's dominant position in the market for apps on mobile devices running the company's Android software, and the fees it charges for developers on its Play Store.

The game developer in 2020 began encouraging Fortnite players to pay Epic directly for purchases of in-game items, rather than using systems developed by Google and Apple. Both tech giants kicked Fortnite out of their app stores…

It became clear during the trial that Google's goal was to maintain its dominance by preventing the emergence of other app stores.

Google worried about a "contagion effect" with other gaming companies if Epic were to move its flagship title Fortnite away from the Play Store, according to company documents the developer presented at trial. 

The tech giant paid $360 million to Activision Blizzard and millions of dollars to 19 other game developers as part of an initiative called Project Hug, an initiative Epic argued was aimed at discouraging them from developing rival app stores. The search company argued the payments encouraged gaming companies to make their titles available in the Play Store.