Fortnite vs. Google in an epic court battle over the future of digital markets

26. 12. 2023 | Natalie Bezděková

The dispute between tech giants Apple and Google and game studio Epic Games over transaction fees on the official App Store and Google Play has entered another phase, with a California jury returning a verdict in favour of the makers of the popular game Fortnite. This court battle has roots dating back to 2020 and concerns the fees Apple and Google charge developers for transactions made on their stores. Both giants charge commissions of up to 30 percent on these transactions.

The conflict began to worsen when Epic Games executives decided to offer players an alternative payment method in Fortnite in August 2020. This method allowed players to purchase V-Bucks, a virtual currency that can be used to buy clothes, dances, and other equipment, for 20 percent cheaper. Apple and Google immediately responded by pulling Fortnite from their App Store and Google Play stores.

Epic Games was prepared for this reaction and filed a lawsuit accusing both companies of abusing their dominant position in the mobile market and having a monopoly. The dispute was extensive and involved not only fees but also issues of monopoly and competition.

The California court’s latest verdict applies only to the dispute with Google, and the jury found in favor of Epic Games on all counts. According to the jury’s decision, Google effectively holds a monopoly in the Android app distribution market, as well as in payment services. At the same time, the jury found that Google’s conduct violated the competition rules and caused financial damage to Epic Games.

Tim Sweeney, the head of Epic Games, took to Twitter to share his excitement over the victory over Google, calling it a “victory over Google”. However, Google has not yet officially responded to this court loss.

The jury’s verdict is quite surprising, especially since Fortnite can be downloaded from alternative stores on Android, which makes downloading the game from Google Play less problematic. On iPhones and iPads, installing the game outside of the App Store is more difficult and requires performing a jailbreak, which can void the device’s warranty.

The whole court battle is an important element in the debate over how large tech companies should regulate and control digital markets, and whether they are able or willing to allow developers and users more freedom. The lawsuit against Apple is still pending and is being heard in the Supreme Court.

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Author of this article

Natalie Bezděková

I am a student of Master's degree in Political Science. I am interested in marketing, especially copywriting and social media. I also focus on political and social events at home and abroad and technological innovations. My free time is filled with sports, reading and a passion for travel.


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