Google countersues Epic for the money it made by breaking Play Store rules
Epic’s fight against the tech industry continues. Just a few weeks after its lawsuit against Apple came to a close — pending appeals, of course — there’s a new development in another court case. Epic’s case against Google has yet to conclude, and there’s a new twist unfolding more than a year later: Google is fighting back.
The company has filed a countersuit against Epic Games, citing a breach of contract that occurred when Fortnite added a proprietary payment system to its app that circumvented the Play Store’s billing service (via ZDNet). This move comes on the heels of the court’s decision in Epic’s case against Apple, which ordered the game developer to pay back all commissions earned after removing the App Store’s payment method from the game.
Epic has unjustly retained these benefits, and continues to do so, without compensating Google. Google seeks restitution of any such amounts by which Epic has been unjustly enriched at Google’s expense.
It seems like Google feels it’s owed the same treatment — especially because Android allows for third-party app stores and APK installations. As you might expect, the lawsuit makes sure to call attention to Android’s openness, in addition to the benefits given to users and developers through Google Play. It specifically calls out Samsung’s Galaxy Store, which — as you might remember — was Epic’s launch partner when the game finally came to Android in 2018. The game eventually came to other devices through direct downloads on the company’s website before finally arriving on the Play Store after agreeing to play by Google’s rules.
This move comes just days after Google supposedly tightened up its control of in-app purchases on the Play Store, requiring most apps to use its own billing system (though we have yet to see this in practice; the Kindle app is unchanged, for example). Despite this, it’s clear the company doesn’t care whether or not Epic — or any other developer — uses its payment system, as long as it does so outside the bounds of its storefront. And, you know, gives back all the cash it made while breaking those rules.
I’m no lawyer, but considering the courts just ordered Epic to pay a few million dollars to Apple under similar circumstances, it seems like Google has a good shot here. In the meantime, who knows what other secretive information we’ll learn from these ever-evolving lawsuits.