Google fights back against Epic’s proposed Play Store revamp, files injunction

The legal tussle between Epic Games and Google continues, with Google now hitting back after the last round ended in an epic win for ‘Epic’. Google has now filed an injunction in a US District Court in California, maintaining its stance that an earlier verdict does not warrant the drastic measures proposed by Epic Games and asked the US judge not to impose the changes. As the legal battle enters the critical phase, both Google and Epic are preparing to present their arguments before the court, The pivotal hearing is scheduled for May 23.

To provide some much-needed context, in December 2023, a jury delivered a resounding victory for Epic Games in its antitrust lawsuit against Google. Google agreed to $700 million as part of the settlement. The court found that Google had violated antitrust laws by leveraging its dominance in the Android app market to stifle competition. At this point, Epic Games presented a list of its demands, seeking sweeping changes to the Play Store ecosystem. This includes a scenario where users are no longer restricted to downloading apps solely from the Google Play Store. Their proposal grants users the freedom to download apps from any third-party app store or directly from the web, bypassing Google’s platform entirely. This move would dismantle Google’s control over app distribution on Android devices.

Another demand by Epic aims to prevent Google from pressuring smartphone manufacturers and mobile carriers to favor the Google Play Store over competing app stores. This would create a level playing field for all app store providers. Currently, developers who use Google Play for in-app purchases are subject to a 30% commission fee. Epic’s proposal seeks to eliminate this restriction, allowing developers the flexibility to offer users alternative payment options without facing any fees or limitations, as well as allow unrestricted access to launch the Epic Games Store on the Android platform. And if this is not enough, Epic also proposes granting developers the right to inform users about alternative payment methods and potential cost savings associated with those options, alongside weakening Google’s control over app updates and sideloading (installing apps from outside the Play Store).

For its part, Google has refused to cater to the demands, opposing them and saying that bowing down to all them would “effectively prevent [it] from competing” and have an adverse impact upon Android users and developers. “Epic’s demands would harm the privacy, security, and overall experience of consumers, developers, and device manufacturers,” Wilson White, Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs & Public Policy, commented on the matter.

“Not only does their proposal go far beyond the scope of the recent US trial verdict — which we will be challenging — it’s also unnecessary due to the settlement we reached last year with State Attorneys General from every state and multiple territories. We will continue to vigorously defend our right to a sustainable business model that enables us to keep people safe, partner with developers to innovate and grow their businesses, and maintain a thriving Android ecosystem for everyone”, added White.