Epic Games Accuses Google of Destroying Evidence as Lawsuit Continues

Fortnite's parent company is asking a judge to sanction Google, saying it intentionally deleted conversations germane to the case.

David Lumb Mobile Reporter
David Lumb is a mobile reporter covering how on-the-go gadgets like phones, tablets and smartwatches change our lives. Over the last decade, he's reviewed phones for TechRadar as well as covered tech, gaming, and culture for Engadget, Popular Mechanics, NBC Asian America, Increment, Fast Company and others. As a true Californian, he lives for coffee, beaches and burritos.
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Fortnite publisher Epic Games has accused Google of deleting employee chats that it alleges would have served as evidence in the continuing lawsuit between the companies.

In a new court filing, Epic alleges Google employees used Google Chat to communicate and intentionally let those conversations be wiped after 24 hours, which is the default setting. 

"Any administrator of Google Chats -- an application developed by Google -- could have changed this default setting at any point for all custodians. Google has never claimed otherwise. But Google chose not to change the setting," the filing read. The filing was reported earlier Friday by Luther Lowe, senior vice president of public policy for Yelp (which has had its own beefs with Google).

Epic Games motioned for a judge to sanction Google and tell the trial jury to assume that these deleted conversations were unfavorable to the company, or at least be made aware that they were deleted. Though we'll probably never know what was in those chat logs, Epic Games alleges their destruction is suspect enough that jurors should be made aware.

As noted in the filing, Google has alleged its employee chats are "generally non-substantive."

"Any suggestion that we haven't preserved and produced responsive documents in this lawsuit is simply wrong," said a Google spokesperson in a statement provided to CNET. "We're looking forward to making our case in court and we're confident that we'll prevail in this unnecessary discovery dispute."

Epic Games declined to comment.

This is the latest event in a two-year-long lawsuit that started when Epic Games contrived to get Google to remove the mobile version of its spectacularly popular online shooter Fortnite from the Play Store, in 2020. Epic took a similar course of action to get Fortnite pulled from the App Store and engage in a parallel lawsuit with Apple, though Apple largely won that case in September 2021. 

These legal actions are Epic's grand endeavor to stop paying both companies a cut of up to 30% of sales from skins, dances and other in-game purchases. Epic is also arguing that Apple and Google shouldn't have so much control over distribution of apps and services across their devices.

Though the Apple lawsuit wrapped up last year, the lawsuit against Google is ongoing, with continued developments like Epic alleging the search giant paid off developers to not launch mobile app stores that would compete with the Play Store.

Updated at 10/16 at 3:30 p.m. PT to include additional information about Epic's lawsuits.

Read more: Apple scores legal win over Epic in Fortnite lawsuit: What you need to know