Google’s Epic $147 million offer, and how it could change gaming apps

  • Google offered $147 million to Epic Games in the hope that its game Fortnite would go live on the Google Play shop.
  • Google fears a ‘contagion’ of defecting developers could cost it a lot of money.

An ‘Epic’ clash

In the last few days, a high-stakes legal battle has captivated the tech world. Google and Epic Games are at odds over the distribution of Android apps and in-app purchases. The dispute, being closely watched by industry insiders and legal scholars, could reshape how smartphone users access Android apps and pay for in-app content.

At the heart of the legal battle is Google’s Play Store, the primary distribution channel for Android apps and in-app purchases. Epic Games’ lawsuit against Google focuses on Google’s application-specific subscription and one-time transaction fees, as well as other terms that Epic alleges help Google maintain an illegal monopoly. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney once alleged that Google “controls, surveils, and taxes transactions between users and developers” in violation of US antitrust law.

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The legal showdown between the two tech giants comes on the heels of a years-long debate about whether app store operators like Google and Apple foster an open and competitive app ecosystem. Both companies argue that their app stores help generate billions of dollars in revenue for small businesses while ensuring that Android and iOS users benefit from the security oversight provided by the tech giants.

The dispute between Epic Games and Google began in 2018 when Epic Games launched its popular survival game Fortnite directly on Android devices rather than through the Play Store. This move allowed Epic Games to sell its in-game currency, V-Bucks, without giving Google a cut of the profits. Google, which typically takes a 30% cut of all Play Store transactions, saw this as a direct threat to its business model.

In response, Google attempted to reach a settlement with Epic Games, offering the company a $147 million contract to distribute its games through the Play Store. According to court documents, Google hoped that this agreement would prevent other developers from following Epic Games’ lead and circumventing its fees. However, Epic Games rejected the offer, leading to the current legal dispute. Google fears that the spread of developer defections could cost it billions of dollars in Android revenue.

Google confirmed to the court that Epic Games had received a $147 million deal to get its hit game Fortnite on the Google Play shop. Purnima Kochikar, vice president of play partners at Google, said the agreement had been approved and submitted to Epic, but was not accepted.

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The outcome of this legal battle could have far-reaching consequences for the tech industry. If Epic Games wins its case, it could force Google to rethink its approach to app distribution and in-app purchases. This could open up the Play Store to more competition, giving developers more options for distributing their apps and getting paid. However, if Google prevails, it could maintain its monopoly on Android app distribution, keeping a tight grip on its lucrative revenue stream.

In the meantime, smartphone users around the world will be watching closely to see how this clash of titans plays out. With so much money and influence on the line, this legal battle promises to be a closely fought contest.


Elma Yuan

Elma Yuan was a junior reporter at BTW media interested in media and communication.

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