CARY – Everyone loves a David versus Goliath story, and it doesn’t get much closer to that in the latest contest between Epic Games and Google.
The Cary-based game developer and creator of “Fortnite” want to distribute its shooter game via Google’s app store, called Google Play. However, it is challenging the tech giant over its policy of taking a cut of payments made for app-related purchases – around 30 percent.
“We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase,” Epic Game’s founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said in a statement. “We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30 percent fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50 percent market share.”
The fight comes at a time when regulators are stepping up their investigations on these types of arrangements, and questioning whether big tech companies are abusing their market position over smaller startups.
Sweeney stressed that Epic is not seeking a “special exception.”
“Rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard.”
He further noted that Epic operates a major PC storefront and payment service.
“We do not force developers using our store to use our payment ecosystem,” he said.
Epic has over the past two years built Fortnite into a global powerhouse with hundreds of millions of users. Selling products linked to the game has helped make Epic a multi-billion-dollar company and Sweeney a billionaire, according to various media reports, including Bloomberg.
At present, it doesn’t seem like Google is going to budge.
“Google Play has a business model and billing policy that allow us to invest in our platform and tools to help developers build successful businesses while keeping users safe,” Google said in a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
Google said it expected companies that want to distribute their apps through its channel to ”participate under the same terms as other developers,” adding they can also distribute their game to Android users without going through Google’s channel.