In a recent court revelation, Google confirmed offering Epic Games a substantial $147 million deal to bring Fortnite to the Google Play Store. The proposed deal, spanning three years, aimed to prevent the spread of popular apps bypassing the official store and evading Google’s in-app purchase fees.
Epic initially launched Fortnite on Android in 2018 through its website, sidestepping the Play Store and avoiding commission fees on in-game currency, V-Bucks. However, in 2020, citing security concerns and other challenges, Epic relented and joined the Play Store.
The current antitrust lawsuit alleges that Google, fearing a “contagion risk” of other developers following Epic’s lead, made efforts to prevent this scenario. Internal documents presented in court revealed Google’s concerns that a mass defection of top game developers could cost billions in revenue. Google contends that its goal was to encourage developers to choose the Play Store and not a nefarious attempt to maintain a monopoly.
While the existence of the offered deal doesn’t directly prove Google’s monopoly, it sheds light on the dynamics of Google’s approach to its games business. Google insists it sought to retain developers on the Play Store, especially when facing competition from Apple’s iOS. Epic, on the other hand, argues that Google’s actions reveal a fear of competition and an unlawful monopoly in app distribution.