Google countersues Epic for intentionally breaching Play Store terms
Around the time when Apple booted Epic Games' Fortnite off the App Store, Google followed suit and kicked the game off the Google Play Store. In the lawsuit that Epic initiated, the latest development is that Google has countersued the game developer alleging breach of the Play Store contract. Epic's suit with Apple recently concluded when the judge ruled in the iPhone maker's favor.
Epic Games originally initiated legal proceedings against Google after the latter removed Fortnite from Play Store citing policy violations. Epic had bypassed Google's proprietary in-app purchase (IAP) payment system and offered app users the option to pay Epic directly. The lawsuit with Apple also arose for the same reasons and the ruling favored Apple, although it was directed to allow alternative IAP payment systems.
Now, Google has alleged Epic intentionally breached the developer distribution agreement (DDA) terms to "draw Google into a legal battle over antitrust" and bypass the 30% cut the search engine giant takes for all IAP payments. Google claimed Epic's first Fortnite submission, which lacked Google's Play Billing, was rejected. A resubmission included Play Billing but came with a server-side switch to enable direct payments.
"Epic has alternatively been unjustly enriched at Google's expense...including by diverting to itself through the hotfix service fees that Google was entitled to as compensation under the DDA for app distribution, and other services provided to Epic," Google's complaint read. "Epic has unjustly retained these benefits, and continues to do so, without compensating Google," Google added.
Google said it doesn't object to Epic distributing Fortnite without the Play Billing framework, so long as the game isn't distributed on the Play Store. This means users can install Fortnite because Android allows sideloading apps easily. Meanwhile, Epic already paid Apple $6 million to compensate for lost profits but Apple has appealed the permanent injunction directing it to allow alternate IAP payment systems.