With three years of work, drama, and legal pushbacks, Epic Games wins against the final boss—Google. The legal struggles between the two companies came down to the final lap over the last month as the court went over everything both sides had to offer towards swaying the Google vs Epic trial verdict. The judge left the jury to debate the case on Monday, and within a few hours, the jury ruled in favor of Epic. While Google initially seemed primed to win just as Apple had in the past, the hearing boiled down to the newly revealed information about the Google Play Store monopoly. The evidence in the case showcased how Google was anti-competitive and stifled the market before it had a chance to compete, cinching the win for Epic Games.
Epic sues Google—Epic Games Wins
When news initially broke about Epic Games challenging the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, it had seemed that there would be little that the company could do to bring down the tech giants that stood against it. The Fortnite-gamemaker was a powerhouse in its own right even back then, but its challenge to app stores charging a 30 percent cut on app purchases was initially met with indifference. After Epic Games tried to circumvent the payment systems in the app stores, both Apple and Google booted Fortnite from their platforms.
Epic sued Apple then, moving to force the company to reduce its transaction cuts and allow third-party payment options. Judge Gonzalez Rogers, the deciding voice in the trial back then, ruled in favor of Apple but only partially. She stated that Epic was in the wrong for violating the contract it had with Apple by introducing its own payment system without explicit authorization to do so. As a result, the company could decide to permanently keep Epic Games out of its App Store. Unfortunately for the Cupertino company though, she did also rule that Apple was in the wrong for preventing alternate payment avenues and that it would have to reverse that rule pretty soon. The ruling was final but that did not stop Epic from suing Google next.
The Google vs Epic verdict is different for many reasons, not the least of which is the jury trial this time as opposed to the judge who decided the final outcome of the previous court case. The specifics of the Google monopoly case that moved away from the initial accusations, is also what seems to have done the company a disservice, as Epic was sufficiently able to prove Google’s anti-competitive practices and secret deals with game devs and smartphone makers to combat rival app stores.
“The evidence presented in this case demonstrates the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones, including with promising legislation in progress right now with the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill in the UK and the Digital Markets Act in the EU.
Thank you to the Court for hearing this important case and for the next steps in determining the remedies that will right Google’s decades of anticompetitive conduct. And thank you to the jury for their historic decision. The one million game developers who couldn’t be here thank you!”
Dismantling the Google Play Store Monopoly
The Epic Games win following the Google vs Epic verdict has a clear winner but there is no clear ruling out as yet, on what the consequences and compensations involved will be for the battling behemoths. As more evidence came out, it became increasingly obvious why Google Play Store’s monopoly flourished so well—because the company had already paid off its competition. Documents indicated that Google offered lucrative amounts of money to smartphone makers to eliminate competitors and maintain Google as the only app store. Similarly, the company paid app store developers to have them shut down their own services and further eliminate competition.
Details revealed in the Google monopoly case further highlighted that the company had an internal system that automatically deleted texts and conversations to erase any data about these dealings and practices. An Epic Games attorney appealed to the jurors to consider that information pertinent to the case must have been deleted. Google’s defense to these accusations was admittedly weak, stating their decisions were all directed towards keeping up with the iOS-based App Store instead.
Google vs Epic verdict eventually resulted in an Epic Games win but Google is not willing to take the loss sitting down. The company announced that it would be challenging the decision, stating that “Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform.” The final results and remedies of the trial will go into discussion in January, giving Google a chance to gather itself and its resources before seeing what the court has in store for it.
The year has been a tumultuous one for Google. After settling two other major lawsuits, the dating app company Match and the antitrust claims by the U.S. the Google vs Epic verdict was the icing on the year. As the fate of the Google Play Store monopoly hangs in the balance, the company is also getting a bad rep for allegedly faking the demo video for its new Gemini AI. Bloomberg’s Parmy Olson reported that the company largely misrepresented the true potential of the AI, oversimplifying how easy to use and accurate the tool is. The company defended itself stating that it did edit the video in favor of brevity but users remain unconvinced.
Epic on the other hand is largely basking in the limelight, after its epic win arriving as an additional reward after the undeniable success of its Lego Fortnite trailer and launch. The curtains are finally closing on this Google vs Epic trial and we’re curious to see how it impacts both the companies as well as the app store developers from here on out.