In a monumental decision regarding alleged antitrust violations in the digital marketplace, a US jury found in favor of Epic Games in its lawsuit asserting Google unlawfully maintains a monopoly over Android app distribution through its Play Store.
The extremely popular Fortnite maker first filed this complaint in 2020, claiming the tech giant’s exclusionary conduct over app stores on Android devices harms competition and inflates transaction fees imposed on developers.
Specifically, Google prohibits app sideloading from unauthorized sources and mandates the usage of its proprietary in-app billing system for all digital purchases, collecting up to a 30% commission in the process. Epic argued these policies serve to unlawfully maintain Google’s dominance.
The jury ultimately agreed with Epic’s core allegations. Their verdict states that by restricting alternative app stores and payment methods, Google partakes in anticompetitive monopoly behavior around Android app distribution and billing.
While Epic Games still needs to work with the courts to determine appropriate remedies for addressing the antitrust violations, this outcome deals a major blow to Google’s arguments defending the lawfulness of its Android ecosystem policies. It also serves as a huge symbolic win for Epic in its ongoing crusade against alleged app store monopolies.
In response, Google expressed disappointment and a desire to appeal the ruling, claiming that its Play Store faces ample competition and that Android provides open app distribution options exceeding those of rival platforms.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney celebrated the verdict as a victory against monopolistic forces he sees as severely restricting consumer choice. This follows a separate 2020 Epic lawsuit against Apple’s similarly closed iOS App Store model that was largely ruled in Apple’s favor last year.
This high-profile legal battle with Epic Games proves ongoing antitrust scrutiny over Google’s far-reaching impact is unlikely to cease given recent lawsuits brought by various US states and across the technology industry. How remedy proposals address Play Store issues like alternative payment systems could profoundly impact mobile app economic models going forward.