Epic wants to blow the Google Play Store wide open

Last December, Epic Games won an antitrust lawsuit against Google. A jury found that Google had an illegal monopoly on app billing and app distribution on Android devices, and that it engaged in anticompetitive practices with certain gaming companies and device manufacturers.

At the time, it was unclear what Epic had actually gained, as the cures had not been determined. THE Fortnite The manufacturer has now submitted a proposed permanent injunction against Google detailing what it wants. In short, Epic wants the Play Store to be almost wide open.

The injunction is based on three main points, Epic noted in a blog post. First, Epic believes that Google should allow users to download apps wherever they want without it being intrusive. It says users should be able to add apps to Android devices the same way they would from a computer – from any app store or on the web.

Epic wants to stop Google from discouraging people from downloading apps from the web (even though it’s okay to let Google block malware). He also wants to prevent the company from working with carriers and phone makers to limit the options consumers have for downloading apps. Among other things, Epic wants restrictions on pre-installed app stores banned. So, if the injunction is approved, we could see Android phones pre-installed with an Epic Games Store app in the future.

Second, Epic argues that Google must give developers and users the freedom to choose how they offer and pay for in-app purchases, “without anti-competitive fees or restrictions.” He claims that Google needs to allow developers to include links from their apps to websites, where they might be able to offer discounts, because they would circumvent Google’s in-app payments cut facilitated through the Play store.

Epic kicked off its legal battle with Google (and Apple) in 2020 by highlighting Fortnite to mobile gamers that they could save money by purchasing V-bucks currency directly from Epic. Under the proposed injunction, Google would not be able to attempt to prevent other payment options through compliance programs such as user choice billing.

The third goal of Epic’s proposed injunction is to prevent Google from retaliating against it (or any app or developer) for adopting App Store practices. “Google has a history of malicious compliance and has attempted to circumvent laws and regulations intended to control its anti-competitive control over Android devices,” Epic wrote. “Our proposed injunction aims to prevent Google from repeating past bad faith tactics and open Android devices to competition and choice for all developers and consumers.”

The injunction contains more details about Epic’s requests, including for Google to disentangle its products and services (such as Android APIs) from the Play Store. For a period of six years, Epic wants Google to allow third-party app stores on the Play Store at no cost and to have access to the Play Store’s app library. This would also mean allowing third-party app stores to manage Play Store app updates. Epic wants Google to appoint a compliance committee to ensure it also complies with the injunction.

We may not have to wait too long to find out how many of Epic’s requests are approved by the court. Google will respond to the proposal by May 2, and a hearing on the injunction is scheduled for May 23.

“Epic’s filing in the US federal court once again shows that it simply wants the benefits of Google Play without having to pay for it,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget in a statement. “We will continue to contest the verdict, as Android is an open mobile platform that faces stiff competition from Apple’s App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices, PCs and game consoles.”

Google must make many similar changes in the European Union due to the bloc’s digital markets law. However, parent company Alphabet and Apple are already under investigation over concerns that they are not freely allowing developers to bypass the Play Store and App Store.

Meanwhile, through the DMA, Epic plans to launch a mobile app store on iOS and Android in the EU later this year. In the United States, Apple also continues to struggle with third-party payments.

Updated 4/12 at 5:55 p.m. ET: Added Google statement.

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