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Epic Games Wins Lawsuit Against Google, Opens Door for Fortnite’s Return to Play Store

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fortnite main
fortnite main

In this Article, In an unprecedented decision by a federal judge, Epic Games won an important victory when Google agreed to stop blocking them from distributing Fortnite on Android platform. Epic initially sued Google in 2020 alleging antitrust violations as well as abusing its dominance over mobile app market.

fortnite lawsuit
fortnite lawsuit

Background

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Fortnite has quickly become one of the most beloved video games globally, boasting more than 350 million players as of 2020. Although the game itself is free to play, in-game items and currency may be purchased using real money. Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer and publisher, charges only 12% commission fees when dealing with such transactions – significantly lower than Google and Apple which charge 33% to distribute apps via their platforms.

Epic Games launched a direct payment option for Fortnite players on Android and iOS devices in August 2020, bypassing Google and Apple’s payment systems and fees. Both companies took swift action, pulling Fortnite from their app stores citing violations to their policies; Epic filed lawsuits alleging monopolistic and anticompetitive conduct that negatively impacted consumers and developers.

The Ruling

On December 21, 2023, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a preliminary injunction against Google that prevents them from banning Fortnite and other Epic Games apps from the Google Play Store. She found that Epic Games’ antitrust claims had shown some likelihood of success on merit, and Google had caused irreparable harm to both itself and Epic Games and its customers as a result of its actions.

Judge Koh also ordered Google to allow third-party app stores, such as Epic Games Store, to be installed without restrictions or interference on Android devices. According to her ruling, Google’s policy of mandating device manufacturers preinstall their own app store as opposed to offering alternative ones was “anticompetitive and an abuse of market power.”

Epic Games applied for an injunction against Apple; however, the judge denied their request due to Apple’s case being more complex and needing further evidence and analysis. Furthermore, the judge noted that Epic Games breached its contract by offering direct payment options; furthermore Apple had legitimate interests in protecting both intellectual property and security of itself and had legitimate security needs of their own that should be taken into consideration in protecting itself from breach by Epic Games.

The Implications

Google was hit hard by this ruling, as much of their revenue comes from app store sales and services. Furthermore, this could cause ripple effects throughout the industry by encouraging more developers to challenge Google policies and fees and provide greater choice at lower costs for customers.

This ruling also opens the door for Fortnite’s return to Google Play Store, potentially increasing both its popularity and profitability. Epic Games has yet to announce whether it plans on restoring Fortnite or will pursue their lawsuit against Google; their aim is not only restoring Fortnite but also ending Google’s unfair and anticompetitive actions which harm consumers and developers.

Google can still appeal the ruling or seek an injunction pending appeal, and will have until May 2 to go to trial in their case.

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