Fortnite Maker Epic Games Says Google Pushed Competitors Not To Launch App Stores

It's no secret the tech world is ruthless about competition, but Epic told a court Google's actions are anti-competitive.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
Fortnite logo

Epic's suing Apple and Google over how Fortnite is paid and managed through their app stores.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Epic Games, which makes the hit game Fortnite, has accused Google of more antitrust behavior, claiming the tech giant "paid off developers with the means, capability and desire" to launch competing app stores.

"Google spent a billion dollars on secret deals with the top app developers," Epic and dating app developer Match Group wrote in a court filing last week.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Engadget that it will oppose the new claims, adding that it doesn't prevent developers from creating competing app stores. "In fact, the program is proof that Google Play competes fairly with numerous rivals for developers, who have a number of choices for operating systems and app stores," Google said.

The move marks the latest twist in Epic's long-running lawsuit with Google. At it heart, Epic is arguing that Google is illegally forcing app developers to use its payment processing service, which charges mandatory commissions of up to 30%. Epic also sued Apple over roughly the same issue, losing its first major round in court and currently arguing appeals.

Both Google and Apple have maintained their respective rules are fair and fall within standard industry practices. Both companies kicked Fortnite off their respective app stores in 2020, after Epic changed code within its app to circumvent Google and Apple's payment systems.

Nearly since the lawsuits began two years ago, Epic has sought to turn the proceedings into a referendum on big tech and larger concerns people have over accused antitrust behavior around the industry. The lawsuits are being closely followed by antitrust experts, who are also watching moves from the US Department of Justice, which is said to be considering its own suits against the companies. Lawmakers in Washington, DC, are also debating new antitrust laws that could force tech companies to change how they do business.