To keep that money spigot flowing, Google reportedly considered buying Epic Games

To keep that money spigot flowing, Google reportedly considered buying Epic Games
Newly released court documents reveal that during their legal battle over the removal of the Fortnite app from the Google Play Store, Google gave serious thought to buying Epic
Games. As reported by The Verge, Epic claimed that Google was upset about its plan to offer Fortnite for Android through other options than the Play Store.

At the heart of the legal battle is the 30% cut of in-app revenue that Google receives from purchases made from the Play Store. By offering its popular game for Android users through other channels, Epic was taking money out of Google's wallet.

Google was concerned about losing its 30% cut of Fortnite in-app payments

According to Epic's filing with the court, "Google’s actions force app developers and consumers into Google’s own monopolized "app store"—the Google Play Store. Google has thus installed itself as an unavoidable middleman for app developers who wish to reach Android users and vice versa. Google uses this monopoly power to impose a tax that siphons monopoly profits for itself every time an app developer transacts with a consumer for the sale of an app or in-app digital content."

Epic adds that "Google has gone so far as to share its monopoly profits with business partners to secure their agreement to fence out competition, has developed a series of internal projects to address the “contagion” it perceived from efforts by Epic and others to offer consumers and developers competitive alternatives, and has even contemplated buying some or all of Epic to squelch this threat."

A tweet posted by Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney states that Google never approached Epic with any kind of acquisition plan. The company did say that Google had offered it a "special deal" to include Fortnite in the Play Store, and another part of the filing mentions how a Google Play manager spoke with Epic about sideloading the game on Android although he called it an "abysmal" experience since it would require more than 15 steps to load the game on Android compared to only two needed to load it from the Play Store.

The complaint also included an interesting story about how OnePlus planned to add an exclusive Epic Games app to its phones allowing those with a OnePlus device to "seamlessly install and update Epic games, including Fortnite, without obstacles imposed by Google’s Android OS." But when Google found out about this, it put its foot down and put the kibosh on the deal forcing OnePlus to scrap the arrangement.

Google puts the kibosh on an interesting exclusive suggested by OnePlus

Additionally, LG, which was still in the mobile phone business at the time, told Epic that its deal with Google allowing it to use the Google Play version of Android prohibited it from the directly distributing apps and that it had no way to legally install and update Epic apps except via the Google Play Store. Furthermore, Google's deal with developers listing their ware in the Play Store does not allow an app to be listed in the Android app storefront if that app distributes another app.

And perhaps in the most blatant anticompetitive act that Google has weaved into its deal with developers, an app must be distributed through the Google Play Store if the developer wants to advertise it on Google Search and YouTube in areas specially made to promote mobile apps.

And just as Apple does, Google does not allow developers to offer their own platform for in-app purchases. When Epic created its own payment system for its own web site, both Apple and Google took umbrage at the move. It was the decision made by Epic to offer lower-priced currency for Fortnite users that led it to develop its own platform for payments which led both Apple and Google to boot the game out of their respective app stores.

It also might have led to an acquisition of Epic by Google. But to be clear, this was one idea under consideration at the time and never amounted to anything solid.

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