Epic Games CEO Accuses Google of Shady Tactics in Antitrust Trial

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Updated: 7:47 AM, Tue November 21, 2023

Epic Games CEO Accuses Google of Shady Tactics in Antitrust Trial

In an ongoing antitrust trial, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney accused Google of employing unethical tactics to protect its predatory payment system. The trial revolves around Epic Games’ efforts to disrupt Google’s Android app store.

Sweeney’s testimony in San Francisco painted Google as a ruthless bully, while Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai had defended his company’s approach to running the Play Store for Android apps just a week prior. Google, with its tech empire valued at $1.7 trillion, is facing multiple legal attacks aimed at breaking up its dominance.

Epic Games, the creator of the immensely popular Fortnite game, alleges that Google has been engaging in illegal price-gouging by charging commissions ranging from 15% to 30% on in-app digital transactions. This payment system is similar to the one Epic Games challenged unsuccessfully in a parallel lawsuit against Apple’s iPhone app store. Epic Games has appealed the outcome of the Apple trial to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Unlike Apple, Google allows other app stores to compete with the Play Store. Epic Games tried to take advantage of this by releasing Fortnite for Android phones in 2018 via its own website instead of the Play Store.

During his testimony, Sweeney recounted a meeting at Google’s headquarters in California. He claimed that Google attempted to entice Epic Games to release Fortnite in the Play Store by offering various financial incentives, which he rejected, referring to it as a crooked arrangement. Sweeney further alleged that Google had obstructed Epic Games’ attempt to distribute Fortnite independently by creating barriers and using pop-up scare screens.

In 2020, Epic Games ultimately released Fortnite in the Play Store while secretly planning to bypass the commission system. They introduced an alternate payment option as part of their Project Liberty, which led to both Apple and Google blocking the feature. Epic Games then filed antitrust lawsuits, framing it as a crusade on behalf of all game makers as mobile gaming becomes increasingly popular.

During the cross-examination, Google’s lawyer Jonathan Kravis highlighted that Epic Games pays similar commissions to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo without complaint. He also revealed that more than 90% of Epic Games’ revenue from in-app purchases came from video game consoles and personal computers during the period when Fortnite was available on the iPhone app store and Play Store.

Sweeney expressed the goal of the trial as wanting the jury to find Google guilty of violating the law and to force the company to cease these practices.

The antitrust trial against Google’s practices related to Android apps is set to conclude before Christmas. The other case, focusing on Google’s dominant search engine, concluded last week but won’t be decided until next year by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. Both cases pose a significant threat to Google’s massive tech empire.

As the trial progresses, it remains to be seen how the court will rule and what implications it may have for the future of app stores and the dominance of tech giants like Google and Apple.

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Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma is a tech-savvy author at The Reportify who delves into the ever-evolving world of technology. With her expertise in the latest gadgets, innovations, and tech trends, Neha keeps you informed about all things tech in the Technology category. She can be reached at neha@thereportify.com for any inquiries or further information.

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