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Epic wins antitrust trial against Google

It lost a similar case against Apple in 2021.

Epic Games logo on a black background
Image credit: Epic Games

Epic Games has won its antitrust case against Google, after the jury gave its verdict yesterday.

In August 2020, Epic implemented a method to circumvent Apple and Google fees on in-game payments in the iOS and Android versions of Fortnite. The two platform-holders swiftly retaliated by pulling the game from their storefronts. Epic subsequently filed lawsuits against both Apple and Google, accusing both companies of anti-competitive behaviour and market monopolisation.

The case against Apple was settled by a court judge in September 2021 in favour of Apple on nine of 10 counts, and earlier this year the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rulings after appeals from both parties. Epic's case against Google has had a dramatically different result, with the jury deciding in favour of Epic on all counts.

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As reported by The Verge, the jury decided Google has conducted anti-competitive behaviour and has monopoly power over the Android app distribution market and in-app billing services. Furthermore, the jury decided Epic has been injured by Google's conduct, which violated antitrust laws. A completed version of the jury's verdict form can be viewed online, uploaded by The Verge.

Epic called the verdict a "win for all app developers and consumers" in a statement posted to its website. "The evidence presented in this case demonstrates the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones," the company continued, "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." Epic CEO Tim Sweeney took to X (née Twitter) to celebrate the verdict.

Following the verdict, Google executive Wilson White said the company is planning to challenge the verdict. "Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform," said White. "The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles. We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem."

From evidence given during Epic Games vs Google, we found out the Epic Games Store is yet to make a profit, Google once considered partnering with Tencent to gain control of Epic, and Sweeney said Google once offered "what seemed like a crooked deal" to get Fortnite on the Google Play Store.

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