Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, described Google as “crooked” during his testimony in the anti-trust trial currently underway in San Fransisco, CA. The trial is a result of Epic attempting to break free from having to pay Google a 15-30% commission on in-app transactions, which Epic alleges is illegal price gouging.
Time Sweeney spoke about the lengths Google went to in order to convince Epic to offer its popular battle royale title, Fortnite, in the Google Play Store. Sweeney described how he was invited to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA where he was offered various financial incentives to ensure the game would appear on the Play Store.
“Google was proposing a series of side deals, which seemed designed to convince Epic not to compete against them,” states Sweeney in court. He would also go on to note that “It seemed like a crooked arrangement.”
These incentives were rejected by Epic, and the game maker would late attempt to circumvent the Play Store commission that would lead to Fortnite getting bounced from the app store. This would end up being a major hurdle for Epic, as it found that distributing Fortnite through its website lead to a massive drop in player engagement.
It was a “a depressing process” according to Sweeney because Google put up barriers to distributing apps in this fashion. One of the biggest problems is that a user would receive pop-ups warning them about the dangers of installing apps in this way. Sweeney would go on to say that “We realized Google was a difficult adversary and had the ability obstruct us.”
Epic is fighting on two fronts as it related to app store commissions. The company is also fighting Apple in court for what Epic sees as similar behavior on iOS. It will be interesting to see where this all ends up, as Epic isn’t the only developer who will be affected by the final rulings in these cases.