Google has filed a counterclaim against Epic Games in relation to in-game purchases of Fortnite, claiming that the company “deliberately violated” an agreement with the Play Store developers, ZDNet reported. Epic initially filed a lawsuit against Google in August, shortly after it filed a complaint against Apple and received a counterclaim from it. “Epic has been unjustly enriched by Google,” the company said in its counterclaim.
As a reminder, Epic is suing Google for removing Fortnite from the Play Store after the “Mega Drop” update gave players the ability to bypass in-app purchases and get discounted items. Google later forced OnePlus to break a deal that would have the Fortnite launcher preinstalled on the OnePlus 8 smartphone, bypassing the Play Store and removing Google fees from in-app purchases.
Google said that unlike Apple’s App Store, Android developers are not forced to use Google Play. “They choose it themselves when given the choice between Android app stores and distribution channels,” the complaint said. “Google supports this choice through Android itself, Google Play policies, and Google’s agreements with developers and device manufacturers.”
However, this generally logical argument is complicated by the documents disclosed in Epic’s original lawsuit against Google. They revealed that Google was paying game developers and phone makers like LG and Motorola to exclusively use the Play Store instead of offering other store options. This is one of the reasons cited by 38 US states and territories that filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in the same federal court in California, where Epic also filed a lawsuit.
In 2018, Google reportedly offered Epic up to $ 208 million to bring Fortnite to the Play Store – effectively cutting its regular 30 percent revenue by about five percent. According to the same court documents, Google was so concerned about the potential loss of Play Store revenue that it even considered acquiring Epic.