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Google countersues Epic Games for breach of contract

The tech giant argues that "Epic's purported launch on Google Play was an act of deception designed to provoke litigation"

Google has filed a countersuit against Epic Games in the antitrust case opposing them.

Filed on October 11 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the suit argues that Google's OS is a "critical source of competition against other operating systems," considering that users are not forced to use Google Play to download apps for Android.

It gives the example of Epic Games itself, which initially distributed the Android version of Fortnite via the Samsung Galaxy Store and its own website in 2018, before launching on Google Play in April 2020.

The suit lists a number of allegations made in the Epic Games suit that Google denies. Included in that list is the mention of Epic promoting its own payment system, which kickstarted the litigation with both Apple and Google. Google says it constitutes a breach of contract.

"On August 13, 2020, Epic breached the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement between Epic and Google dated June 12, 2020, by allowing Fortnite users who downloaded the app through Google Play to use Epic's own payment processing tool instead of Google Play Billing," the suit reads. "Google further avers that for Fortnite transactions processed through Epic's own payment processing tool, Google is paid nothing for its intellectual property or for app distribution."

Google further argues that the breach of contract is the reason why it removed Fornite from its Google Play store back in August 2020.

"Epic has reaped economic benefit from its relationship with Google and all of the services that Google provided to Epic," the suit continues. "For virtually no cost to it, but at a cost to Google, Epic received benefits from Google's services and technology which allowed Epic to bring its games, including Fortnite, to Android devices and to market and distribute its games through Google Play to tens of millions of customers."

Google says that Epic Games launching Fortnite on Google Play was planned as part of Project Liberty, which was Epic's roadmap to end what it deems to be an anti-competitive fee from both Apple and Google's respective app stores. It adds that it was an intentional breach in order to "draw Google into a legal battle over antitrust."

"Epic's purported launch on Google Play was an act of deception designed to provoke litigation -- Epic had been working for months on a way to conceal Epic's payment system in an update on both Google Play and the Apple App Store."

Google demands a trial by jury and seeks for the court to rule that "Epic was unjustly enriched," as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and restitution of profits obtained by Epic.

Epic initially filed a complaint in a California court against Google back in August 2020, arguing that its Google Play store prevents healthy competition.

Since then, it also took legal action against Google in Australia and in the UK.

In August, a complaint filed by Epic revealed that Google previously considered teaming up with Tencent to gain more control over the Fortnite developer.

Meanwhile, the antitrust trial between Epic and Apple took place in May, with the developer winning a partial victory as the judge ordered Apple to allow apps that link to external payment options.

Epic filed a notice of appeal, with Apple saying it won't let Fortnite back on the App Store until the court ruling is finalised.

For more, check out our complete rundown of all the headlines from Epic v. Apple.

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Marie Dealessandri avatar

Marie Dealessandri

Deputy Editor

Marie Dealessandri joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016 at B2B magazine MCV. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.