Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, is suing Google in Australia over alleged anti-competitive behavior that violates the country’s antitrust regulations.
“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, but in reality, these situations are so rare that they barely make a dent in the monopoly of the Android OS,” Tim Sweeney, Epic founder and chief executive officer, said in a blog post on Tuesday (March 9).
In the claim, Epic accuses Google of anti-competitive conduct that breaches the Australian Consumer Law and sections of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
“Google abuses its control over the Android operating system (‘Android OS’), restricting competition in payment processing and app distribution on the Google Play Store. This harmful conduct stifles innovation, reduces consumer choice and inflates prices,” according to the blog.
App developers have no choice but to use Google’s in-app payment services, which charge a 30 percent commission. Google also forces most users to download apps through the Google Play Store. In Australia, almost 50 percent of the 20 million smartphones in the country use Google’s Android OS, and 90 percent of apps are typically downloaded via the Google Play Store.
“The barriers Google places on Android OS are real. In the case of direct downloading, it makes the process so difficult and scary that it deters users from downloading apps from third party-websites even though it is a totally normal way for users to get apps on a desktop. It’s actions like this that illustrate Google is more interested in feigning openness than delivering choice to consumers. We believe consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace,” Sweeny said.
Epic Games also filed a claim in Australia against Apple and has an active antitrust lawsuit in the European Union against Apple. Lawsuits were also filed against Apple in the U.S. and the U.K. The game developer is not looking for damages; it is just asking for fairness and competition, which will ultimately benefit both consumers and developers.
Tech firms have joined Epic’s fight for fairness. The Fortnite maker is seeking testimony from online-dating company Match Group, the owner of Tinder and other apps, and from a former Apple executive, the Journal said. Epic’s lawyers are also planning to question Apple CEO, Tim Cook. Epic filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple Australia in November 2020.