The creator of the widely popular video game Fortnite, Epic Games, has launched a legal battle against Google in a San Francisco court, alleging the tech giant of monopolistic practices. Epic Games claims that Google, through its Google Play store, imposes a 30% commission on in-app purchases, asserting that this behaviour contradicts Google’s founding motto of “Don’t be Evil” from 1998.

Google refutes the allegations, contending that Android phones offer various alternative methods for app downloads, thereby fostering competition. The company emphasises its rivalry with Apple and denies the monopolistic characterisation of Google Play. This legal confrontation adds to Google’s ongoing antitrust challenges, including a case in Washington where the US Justice Department accuses Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly in the search sector.

Epic Games’ legal action against Google echoes a similar case against Apple in 2021. In 2020, Epic Games removed Fortnite from both Google Play and the App Store, arguing that the charges imposed by these platforms amounted to burdensome “taxes” on developers. While the judge in the Apple case rejected the monopoly claim, the ruling allowed apps to guide users away from Apple’s in-app payment system.

Epic Games asserts that Google has stifled competition in Android app distribution by implementing numerous contractual and technical obstacles. Google counters this argument, stating that Android offers developers more diverse avenues for app distribution than any other major mobile platform, thereby promoting competition and choice. The outcome of this legal battle will likely have significant implications for the future landscape of app distribution and commission fees.