With the court ruling on Epic Games lawsuit against Apple, you probably thought that the drama over Fortnite on mobile has finally come to an end. Apple, however, wasn’t the only one that the Fortnite creator sued last year since it also accused Google of anti-competitive behavior over the same game on Google Play Store. That case still hasn’t been resolved, but Google is turning the tables on the game publishing giant with a breach of contract suit that reveals a rather curious situation unique to the Google Play Store only.
While Epic Games focused on Apple’s monopoly of the latter’s App Store at the heart of its case against the iPhone maker, it laid out Google’s more covert tactics in trying to keep Fortnite from leaving Google Play Store. That allegedly included bribing Samsung not to have Fortnite on the Galaxy Store as well as contemplating acquiring Epic Games itself. That, of course, never came to pass, and Google eventually kicked Fortnite out of its Play Store for using a third-party payment system.
Unfortunately for Google, but fortunately for Epic Games, simply being removed from Play Store doesn’t remove the app from people’s devices. This has resulted in a rather curious situation where people who downloaded Fortnite from the Google Play Store could still use a version of the game that used Epic Games’ external in-app payment system. In other words, Epic was still profiting from those IAP’s made from an app that was installed from Google Play Store even if the app was no longer available from that app store.
According to Google’s lawsuit, that constituted a breach of contract since Epic Games wasn’t paying the 30% revenue cut it contractually owed Google. The tech giant claims that Epic Games was “unjustly enriched” at its expense and is seeking compensation for how much it lost during that period. The legal debate will probably revolve around Epic Games’ obligation to pay that tax even after it got kicked out from Google Play Store.
The Android maker has always insisted that its legal case with Epic Games was very different from Apple’s. Unlike on iOS, app developers are free to use any payment system they want as long as they don’t publish on Google Play Store. If they do opt to use Google’s sanctioned app marketplace, they’ll have to play by its rules and pay the customary tax.