The battle between Google and Epic Games over the distribution of the hit game Fortnite on Android’s Google Play Store has taken an interesting twist. Court proceedings have revealed that Google had offered Epic a substantial deal of $147 million to bring Fortnite onto its official platform. This article explores the details surrounding the proposed deal and the implications it could have had on both companies and the Android app ecosystem.
1. The Controversial $147 Million Offer:
Google’s VP of Play partnerships, Purnima Kochikar, confirmed in court that a deal had been presented to Epic Games. The $147 million offer was designed to be disbursed over a three-year period as incremental funding to incentivize the game’s publisher to launch Fortnite on the Google Play Store. The deal aimed to prevent the potential threat of other popular apps bypassing the official store and circumventing Google’s in-app purchase fees.
2. Epic’s Independent Approach:
Epic initially launched Fortnite on Android in 2018, bypassing the Google Play Store entirely. This allowed the company to sell its in-game currency without paying the Play Store’s commission. However, in 2020, Epic faced challenges such as security pop-ups and other factors that influenced its decision to relent and bring Fortnite to the Google Play Store.
3. The Alleged Panic:
In response to Epic Games’ independent distribution decision and the potential risk it posed, the company found itself in the midst of an antitrust lawsuit against Google. Internal documents presented in court revealed that Google was concerned about a “contagion risk” if other game developers, including Blizzard, Valve, Sony, and Nintendo, also chose to bypass the Play Store. Google was said to have feared a domino effect that could significantly impact its app distribution revenue.
4. Google’s Efforts to Prevent Fallout:
To mitigate the alleged “contagion risk,” Google reportedly attempted to dissuade Epic Games by offering special benefits or even considering the possibility of acquiring the company. The intention behind these efforts was to maintain its control over the Android app ecosystem and prevent more developers from adopting an independent distribution approach.
5. The Antitrust Lawsuit:
Currently, the antitrust lawsuit between Epic Games and Google is being argued before a jury. Epic Games has accused Google of anti-competitive behavior, claiming that the offer and subsequent actions were intended to stifle competition and maintain control over the Android app market. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for Google’s policies and the regulation of app marketplaces.
Google’s offer of $147 million to Epic Games for bringing Fortnite onto the Google Play Store sheds light on the competitive landscape of the Android app ecosystem. The court proceedings surrounding this deal have highlighted the concern Google had about the potential “contagion” effect of other developers opting out of the official store. The ongoing antitrust lawsuit between Epic Games and Google will determine if Google’s actions were anti-competitive or merely strategic measures to protect its market dominance.