Google countersues Epic Games for breach of Play Store contract
Google is countersuing Epic Games for its breach of the Play Store contract after the company bypassed Play fees for in-app purchases and enabled direct payments in the app. Shortly after, Google removed Fortnite from the Play Store, and Epic Games initiated legal proceedings against both Google and Apple. A lot of private information has since come out about all companies involved, and Apple might have a problem on its hands when it comes to in-app payments. However, the judge still ruled that Epic Games had breached its contract with Apple, and now Google is suing Epic Games.
In the counter-complaint (via ZDNet), Google alleges that Epic began planning its intentional breach of the terms of the developer distribution agreement (DDA) in order to “draw Google into a legal battle over anti trust” and get around Google’s 30% revenue share cut as part of a campaign internally known as “Project Liberty.” Epic Games reportedly attempted to submit a version of Fortnite to the Play Store without Google Play’s billing system in place, wherein it was then rejected. Later, the company submitted a version of the game with Google Play billing in place, but a server-side switch was added. This server-side switch, when toggled, enabled the ability for players to make 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 wrote in the complaint. “Epic has unjustly retained these benefits, and continues to do so, without compensating Google Google seeks restitution of any such amounts by which Epic has been unjustly enriched at Google’s expense.”
The company says that it has no problem with Epic Games providing a version of Fortnite without Play billing, so long as it isn’t distributed inside of the Play Store. Google seeks compensation for the amount it has lost through users paying to Epic Games directly on versions of Fortnite downloaded on the Play Store.
The case between Epic Games and Apple is further along and has dealt with this matter already. Epic Games was ordered to pay Apple its fee for amounts collected when the game was distributed on the App Store with direct payments. Still, as part of her ruling, Judge Gonzalez-Rogers issued a permanent injunction against Apple that orders the company to lift its restrictions on iOS apps and App Store pages providing buttons, external links, and other “calls to action” that direct consumers to other purchasing mechanisms.
The injunction essentially orders Apple to abandon its anti-steering policy, which prohibited app developers from informing users of alternative purchasing methods. While Apple collected its $6 million fee from Epic, it has appealed the injunction.