In the latest leg of Epic Games’ case against the tech giants, the Fortnite developer is taking Google to court — in Australia this time around.
The full case that Epic filed with Australia’s Federal Courts earlier this week accuses Google of holding a “near-monopoly” over the app distribution and payments in the Android market by imposing a bevy of “contractual and technical” restrictions on the developers it works with. Altogether, Epic says, these hoops that Google requires its partners to jump through constitute a blatant breach of Australia’s competition laws.
“Google gives the illusion of being open by making arguments about the presence of alternative app stores on its platform or allowing direct downloading of apps from third party providers, Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said in a statement. “In reality, these situations are so rare that they barely make a dent in the monopoly of the Android OS.”
As far as Australia’s concerned, he’s right. Android controls just under half of the market share for the roughly 20 million smartphones across the country. And as Epic points out in its statement, roughly 90% of the apps on those phones are obtained through the Google Play store, per market research that Australian authorities had previously put out.
What’s happening in Australia is the latest in Epic’s ongoing crusade against two of the biggest honchos in the mobile operating space: Apple and Google. Back in August, Epic introduced a direct payment system into Fortnite that was explicitly designed to bypass the 30% cut either Apple or Google take from subscriptions and in-game purchases made through Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store. Pretty soon after word got around that Epic was trying to circumvent their cuts of cash, both companies blocked Fortnite from their respective stores.
At the time, Epic (rightfully) pointed out that being forced into this sort of pay-for-play system is more than a bit unfair. When neither operator would budge, the lawsuits started. Back in August, Epic filed suit against Apple and Google in the California courts, accusing both of anticompetitive behaviour. A few months later, Epic filed suit against Apple’s Australian HQ on similar grounds to the current Google case. Then it filed additional charges against Apple and Google in Europe just last month.