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Google is considering buying Epic Games while fighting over Fortnite, according to court filings

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August. 6 — CARY — Google has considered “purchasing some or all” of Epic games during its ongoing battle with video game maker Cary over the coming of the popular Fortnite app on Android phones, according to newly released court documents.


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The lawsuit, which Epic Games brought in its antitrust complaint against Google, was originally redacted. But in an amended complaint issued late Thursday, those specific revisions were removed.

However, big parts of the complaint remain redacted.

In July, Epic Games filed an amended complaint against Google that revised several sections and documents that Google requested the court stamp on. But following a meeting with a judge to manage the case, Google agreed to remove further revisions from the complaint.

Epic is involved in two antitrust lawsuits against Apple and Google, makers of the two most popular smartphone operating systems.

Epic hopes to prove in court that Google and Apple are illegally restricting how app makers can distribute their products to iPhone and Android owners and charging very lofty fees for in-app purchases.

In its complaint, Epic said that Google “knocked out the competition in Android app distribution” and “positioned itself as the inevitable middleman for app developers who want to reach Android users.”

Epic said Google used its size and money to force third-party app developers into agreements that maintained Google’s monopoly over the Google Play Store. While “side-loading” apps on Android phones outside the Play Store is conceivable, Epic argues that Google has put too many technical barriers against this approach to make it unattractive.

Epic’s complaint states that “Google uses its size, influence, power, and money to induce third parties to enter into anticompetitive agreements that further entrench their monopolies.” For example, Google has gone so far as to share its monopoly profits with business partners to secure their agreement to fend off competition, and has developed a series of inner projects to address the ‘contagion’ it envisions from the efforts of Epic and others to offer consumers and developers competitive alternatives, and they have considered buying some or all Epic to crush this threat.”

The complaint does not share messages or documents that were discussed regarding a potential deal to purchase Epic or that it contacted Epic about the possibility.

It remains unclear when this discussion will take place. Epic Games launched Fortnite on Android devices in 2018, and the bickering between the two companies started beforetime on.

An Epic Games spokesperson declined to comment.

However, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said in a tweet on Friday that Google’s interest in acquiring Epic was “unknown to us at the time, and due to the court’s protective order, we have now found out about Google’s consideration of buying Epic to shut it down.” To compete with Google Play.

“It is not clear if this is a negotiation to purchase Epic or a antagonistic takeover attempt,” Sweeney added.

Google has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In 2019, Epic objected to Google’s 30% charge on in-app purchases by refusing to put Fortnite on the Play Store and requiring users to download the game from its website. Sideloading feature on Android is not something that is conceivable on iPhone.

But in 2020, just a few months prior Apple and Google were sued, Epic acquiesced, saying that Google put side apps at a disadvantage.

In the amended complaint, Epic said Google also tried to offer several “exceptional deals” to Epic to convince it to put Fortnite on the Play Store and stick to the 30% fee.

“Google offered to appease Epic by offering it preferential terms on side deals, such as YouTube sponsorship and cloud services, if Epic agreed to distribute Fortnite in the Google Play Store and acceded to Google’s 30% tax,” the complaint states, noting that other developers have agreed. on deals like this. Most of these developers have been revised, but Activision Blizzard, the maker of games like Call of Duty and Overwatch, is included.

Epic also states in the complaint that Google executives acknowledge that sideloading is an unattractive alternative to the Play Store. It says it has documents showing an executive acknowledging that sideloading is a “horrible experience” and that developers should “worry that most won’t go through more than the 15 steps” needed to load the app.

Epic is no longer alone in suing the Google Play Store.

The News & Observer reported that 37 state attorneys general, including North Carolina’s Josh Stein, filed a lawsuit final month against Google for operating a monopoly over the Play Store.

Stein told The N&O that Google makes it very firm for users to get apps outside the Play Store and charges very lofty fees because of its monopoly.

“When people purchase things from payment processors, the usual rate is 3%, and Google charges 30%,” said Stein, a Democrat. “And so I am bringing this lawsuit with 36 other attorneys general, both Republicans and Democrats, to forbid Google from using its dominant market position in Android to harm consumers.”

Google disagreed with the opinion of state attorneys general. In a blog post final month, the company said the complaint from the states “simulates a similar baseless lawsuit brought by big app developer Epic Games, which took advantage of Android’s openness by distributing the Fortnite app outside of Google Play.”

Epic sued both Google and Apple final August following Epic introduced its in-app payment system to its Fortnite app to get around each company’s 30% fee on in-app purchases. The move violated the rules of both Google and Apple, and Fortnite was expelled from the App Store and Play Store.

Epic’s lawsuit against Apple has moved much faster than the lawsuit against Google. Earlier this summer, Epic and Apple walked into the courtroom for several weeks.

The judge is expected to rule on this case in the coming days or weeks, and it may influence the coming direction of app stores.

This story was produced with the financial support of a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of the Independent Journalism Fellowship Program. N&O retains conclude editorial control over the business. learn more; Go to

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