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Epic Games Pushes for Competition in Google Play Store After Antitrust Verdict

 |  April 12, 2024

Epic Games, the developer behind the popular game “Fortnite,” has urged a federal judge to mandate increased competition within the Google Play Store.

Following a jury’s finding that Google abused its power as a gatekeeper for apps on the Android platform, Epic Games has filed a proposal aiming to open up the ecosystem to alternative app stores and limit Google’s control over preloading agreements with device manufacturers, as Reuters reported.

The proposal, submitted to U.S. District Judge James Donato in San Francisco, seeks to enforce significant changes within the Google Play Store for a duration of six years. Among the key provisions outlined by Epic Games is the requirement for Google to allow the distribution of competing third-party app stores, effectively challenging the tech giant’s dominance in app distribution.

Judge Donato, who presided over the high-profile antitrust trial that concluded in December with a verdict against Google, holds the authority to evaluate and potentially enact Epic’s proposal. However, the road ahead promises to be arduous, with expected resistance from Google likely to prolong the legal battle before any permanent changes are instituted.

Read more: Epic Games Files Apple Complaint To UK Antitrust Watchdog

The jury verdict in December delivered a damning assessment of Google’s practices, concluding that the company unfairly hindered developers’ ability to distribute their apps outside of the Play Store and maintained overly strict control over in-app payments. According to Reuters, Epic’s proposed injunction aims to address these issues by also seeking to prohibit Google from restricting how apps inform users about alternative purchasing options, further challenging Google’s dominance over app transactions.

Google, meanwhile, has staunchly defended its app store practices and refuted any allegations of wrongdoing. With a deadline of May 3 to respond to Epic’s proposal, the tech giant faces mounting pressure to justify its policies amid heightened scrutiny over its market dominance.

It’s worth noting that Epic Games’ lawsuit against Google did not seek monetary damages, highlighting the company’s primary objective of fostering a more competitive app ecosystem. Epic Games, based in North Carolina, counts China’s Tencent and Walt Disney among its major stakeholders.

In a separate development, Google reached a $700 million settlement in December to resolve allegations from states and consumers regarding its Play Store restrictions. As part of this settlement, Google pledged to expand the options available to app developers for in-app purchases, introducing a pilot program for “choice billing” in the United States.

Source: Reuters