The Epic vs. Google case finally makes sense


There was never any doubt about what Epic Games wanted when it took Apple to court: 48 seconds “Nineteen-Eighty-Fortnite” made it clear The hypocrisy of the App Store was the agenda. But justification for a parallel case against Google was not so unambiguous to this day – only now do we learn about the most destructive accusations against the Android giants.

On Thursday, Judge James Donato resigned completely uncorrected version Epic ‘s original complaint against Google (via Leah Nylen), and argues that the company was so concerned about the creation of Epic by setting a precedent by divesting Play Play that it freed up a broad effort to prevent developers from following the company’s management. It included directly paid by top game developers, including Activision Blizzard to stay around, and share more of their revenue with phone manufacturers if they chose not to install other app stores.

Remember when Google claimed OnePlus would terminate the agreement who would have seen Fortnite Launcher pre-installed on phones? LG and Motorola reportedly signed an agreement in which they received 12 percent of customers ’search revenue and up to 6 percent of the money they spent in the Play Store exclusively on Google. OnePlus sister brands Oppo and Vivo were also involved, and owner BBK committed to an exclusive program for the majority of its phones. Nokia phone maker HMD Global also joined, as did Sony, Sharp, Xiaomi and another unnamed brand.

If these tactics sound familiar, it may be because of it 36 state justice ministers claimed that Google used exactly the same Hush-Hush offers against Samsung’s Galaxy Store, in a lawsuit filed against Google in July. Google called it “Project Agave,” according to Epic.

Apparently, Google considered the so-called “Premier Device Program” a huge success:

In a presentation prepared and presented by senior executives at Google Play, Google said more than 200 million new devices were covered in the short time since the program began. The same presentation shows that Google believed the new RSA agreements removed the “risk of infection for application developers.” notes that there is no “risk” below the current Premier level.

Google even suggested the idea buying Epic eliminates the threat – goes behind Epic’s back and approaches minority owner Tencent, a Chinese technology giant that currently has a 40 percent stake in Epic. The proposals were “either (a) buy Epic shares from Tencent to gain more power from Epic” or “(b) join Tencent to buy 100% of Epic”, an irreparable complaint is pending.

And this is in addition to what he did with Google directly with Epic in July 2018, when Alphabet’s CFO and other senior Google executives offered up to $ 208 million in special benefits over three years to bring in Fortnite Google Play – where Google would actually take 25 percent of the game’s revenue instead of the usual 30 percent. Google allegedly tried to persuade Epic to make a deal by pointing out that the “frankly unpleasant” 15+ step process players have to endure sideways Fortnite On Android.

Interesting that it would have been a month before Epic announced its divestment of the Play Store. This suggests that Google had early access to Epic’s page-loading plans despite instructions from CEO Tim Sweeney in February 2018 to his team “SAY NOT THING IT SHIPS”:

It also suggests that Google, not Epic, may initially offer special offers. A year later, Epic had to defend the idea that it asked for a “special billing exception”, a series of events that appears to have prevented Epic’s original plans – if you read paragraph 38 my great story of the best emails from the Epic v. Apple experimentyou see, Epic designed a legal trap for Google to use long before Apple became a priority.

Why was Google so scared that it claimed to have resorted to these tactics? Apparently it believed billions of dollars were in danger. Epic estimates that Google thought Epic had created an infection risk that would spread to other game developers as well:

In particular, documents prepared by the CFO of Google’s Platforms and Ecosystems for CFO of the alphabet at the time of Fortnite’s release on Android showed that Google feared the risk of infection due to more and more app developers abandoning Google Play. Google feared the infection would spread this way: first, inspired by Epic’s example,[p]a lot of developers “like” Blizzard, Valve, Sony, Nintendo “- the creators of some of the most popular and profitable entertainment – could” go it alone “bypassing Play by distributing their own apps directly.

Then the others “[m]ajor developers ”, including Electronic Arts, King, Supercell and Ubisoft, are opting for“ colaunch off Play ”and are working together to divest Google’s distribution services as well. And finally, Google even recognized the risk,[a]Remaining headings [will] launch Play together ”. Google estimated the risk of losing market share in the threat of Android app distribution to $ 3.6 billion, and the probability-weighted loss is conservative[ly]”Estimated to be $ 550 million by 2021. Google also recognized that”[r]The ecent Fortnite + Samsung partnership further increases the risk and urgency of the problem, ”which has its monopoly on the distribution of Android applications. Google decided not to let this happen.

“Epic’s partnership with Samsung and its determination to bypass Google Play for Fortnite’s distribution raised fears among Google’s top executives,” Epic wrote, adding that Google saw it lose up to $ 6 billion in revenue alone by 2022 if Samsung, Amazon and other app stores were able to disconnect game developers who used Google Play.

Google’s presentation looking back on 2018 mentions

Google’s presentation, which looks back on 2018, mentions “hug” incentives for game developers so they can’t get “alone”.

Epic’s uncorrected complaint may explain some other stuff we also found in the archives, such as Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s secret assurance to Samsung’s DJ Koh that “You are confident that Epic will support Samsung 100% in any battle with Google” (# 32), or the reason Epic included the whole presentation as evidence about how Google found it difficult to play. You will see a very relevant slide from above.

It’s not clear that Epic was ever going to succeed Fortnite phones the way it worked Fortnite about the console: as I discuss in the last part of the year Epic v. Apple email storyThe cell phone is a small part of a company’s business, and may not be the most popular gaming site – more of a gateway drug than any other.

But it sounds like Google certainly didn’t help Epic’s chances out there, and it’s impossible to say how much more popular Fortnite Mobile phone could have been if Epic had never questioned the standard app store fee or made it easier to set up its own store. The documents show Fortnite was exceptionally anemic on Android, although competitors like it PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty exploded around the world.

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It also shows that Google is quietly trying to build the kind of fenced garden that Apple has been specifically aiming for from the beginning. The company was alleged to be locking up phone vendors with detailed agreements, appealing directly to software developers to keep them in the Play Store and seeing all alternative software channels as an existential threat – all of which makes competition lawsuits more open for these two major mobile operating systems much more credible.

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