Epic Games CEO reveals Google Play Store clash over Fortnite

Epic’s stand against what it perceived as monopolistic practices echoes sentiments shared by other developers and tech companies advocating for more open and competitive app store environments, aiming to provide developers with greater choice and fairer revenue-sharing models.

Epic Games’ CEO, Tim Sweeney, testified in the ongoing trial against Google, alleging that the tech giant proposed a questionable arrangement to persuade Epic to release Fortnite on the Google Play Store instead of their own platform.

According to Apnews’ piece, Sweeney described a meeting at Google’s headquarters where he felt the proposed deals were aimed at discouraging Epic from competing directly with Google. Despite Google’s offers, Epic opted to launch Fortnite on Android in 2018 via its own website.

In 2020, Epic eventually released Fortnite on the Play Store but attempted to bypass platform fees on Android and iOS using an undisclosed payment system, internally known as Project Liberty. This move deliberately breached Google’s payment policies. Epic defended this tactic by likening it to standing up to a bully, stating it was a conscious decision despite knowing it violated Google Play’s regulations, as acknowledged by Sweeney during cross-examination by Google’s lawyer.

Epic Games’ decision to bypass the Play Store and distribute Fortnite through its own channels was initially seen as a bold move to avoid the 30% revenue share typically demanded by major app stores. This move highlighted concerns among developers about the dominance and control wielded by app store platforms like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

The subsequent attempt by Epic to introduce its own payment system within Fortnite, thus bypassing Google’s and Apple’s in-app purchase mechanisms, stirred a contentious debate about the fairness of these app store policies and the control these platforms exert over digital ecosystems.

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