Epic has renewed the fight against mobile platform restrictions in the app store, and filed an update of its antitrust case against Google. The archive adds mostly edited details about Google’s alleged monopolistic behavior on Android, including banning Epic’s games Fortnite from the Google Play Store last year. The amended complaint comes shortly after a judge officially linked the case to a recent multi-state lawsuit, which aimed at Google’s Play Store guidelines.
Epic’s complaint is based on information obtained from government probes and documents produced since the original suit. An addition includes, for example, details revealed last year about “the close relationship that Google maintains with Apple”
Google denied the allegations in another statement The Verge. “The open Android ecosystem allows developers to distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent guidelines that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite is still available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. We will continue to defend ourselves against these meritorious allegations, “said spokesman José Castañeda.
Among the new edited information, Epic apparently describes the plans to launch Fortnite on the Samsung Galaxy Store. “Google was determined not to let this happen,” the complaint states, so it offered Epic a “special deal” to launch on Google Play. When Epic rejected the agreement, Google allegedly took other anti-competitive measures, but the details of this action are not available.
Google’s relationship with Samsung came under the microscope earlier this month when 36 states and the District of Columbia sued Google for violating antitrust laws. The Epic complaint cites some allegations made in that complaint, such as an agreement to make the Samsung Galaxy Store a branded Play Store – something the new filing reveals was called “Project Agave.” Epic’s filing suggests that if the lawsuit continues, it will depend in part on how Google reacted to the prospect of an Epic-Samsung deal.
Apart from these and other edited claims, the complaint provides the same basic argument as Epic’s original lawsuit in August. It states that Google’s “open” Android ecosystem remains functionally monopolistic, preventing other app stores or side-loaded apps from competing on equal terms with Google’s official Play Store platform. It seeks the ability to place Fortnite in the Google Play Store with an independent payment processing system and an end to other alleged non-competitive actions – which in the complaint includes the relatively long and stressful process of launching a side-loaded app.
Epic and Google were originally scheduled to appear in a hearing on the future of the case today. But the parties agreed to push back the timeline while Epic filed an amended complaint. Judge James Donato also agreed to consolidate early parts of the case with the state-run Play Store lawsuit. A scheduled schedule from earlier this month gives Google a deadline of August 20 to submit a resignation, and then sets a hearing on the case until October 14. Google has previously denied legal action against the Play Store, saying Google’s platform “provides more transparency and choice than others.”
Epic v. Google has been slower than Epic’s lawsuit against Apple, which went to court in May and is awaiting judgment. Epic v. Apple revolved around slightly different issues since Google, unlike Apple, allows third-party apps or stores. So unlike on iOS, Fortnite is not locked out of Android while the case continues; you can still download it directly from the Epics website. But both suits claim that the platform’s rules for developers are unfair and competitive – and in Epic v. Google, Epic has also found a common cause in government antitrust guards.
Update 13:20 ET: Added comment from Google.