Google Considered Buying “Some Or All” Of Epic During Fortnite Shock, Court Documents Sure

Google considered buying Epic Games as companies feud over Epic Fortnite Android app, according to recently unsealed court documents. Google last night lifted some of its deletions in Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against Google, which Epic amended and reclassified last month. The complaint still omits many details about Google’s relationships with specific companies, but the new details reflect Google’s internal communications about competition on the Android platform.

Epic claims Google has been threatened by its plans to circumvent Google’s official Play Store commission by distributing Fortnite via other channels, and in an unedited segment, he quotes an internal Google document calling Epic’s plans “contagion” threatening Google. Here is Epic’s description of the situation:

Google went so far as to share its monopoly profits with business partners to secure their agreement to exclude competition, developed a series of internal projects to combat the “contagion” it perceived from Epic’s efforts and others to offer consumers and developers competitive products. alternatives, and even considered purchasing some or all of Epic to quell this threat.

Internal messages discussing the possibility remain secret, and the complaint does not indicate that Google ever contacted Epic with these plans. It also doesn’t give a timeline for discussion – although it presumably happened after Epic began its launch plans. Fortnite on Android in 2018.

Epic also alleged that Google offered it a “special offer” for the launch. Fortnite on the Play Store. In another unsealed section, the complaint describes a Google Play official contacting Epic about its sideloading plans Fortnite – and apparently admit that sideloading is a “frankly abysmal” experience in the process.

One official reached out to Epic’s vice president and co-founder to gauge Epic’s interest in a special offer and, among other things, discussed “the experience of getting Fortnite on Android ”by direct download. Manager’s call notes say she viewed the direct download Fortnite as “frankly abysmal” and “a horrible experience”, and that Epic should “be concerned that most don’t get through the 15-plus stages.”

Another section states that ‘internal staff members have recognized that the difficulty Google places on consumers who wish to direct the download leads to a'[p]oor user experience ‘, in the sense that there are ’15 + steps to get the application [via sideloading] vs 2 steps with Play or on iOS. ‘”

Overall, “Google understands that the innumerable barriers it erects to direct downloads have the effect of protecting its monopoly in distributing applications and limiting the ability of developers to distribute their applications,” Epic alleges in its complaint.

In an internal document titled “Response to Epic,” a Google employee explained that the “installation frictions” associated with direct downloading were “not only a bad experience” for users, but that Google knew “from their own. data that it would limit considerably [Epic’s] achieve. “The document goes on to explain that”[f]uture [Fortnite] updates will be disputed regarding targeting, web update experience ”; that the direct download approach was “most associated with malicious applications”, which would be “incompatible with [Epic’s] brand / demographics ”; and that “[t]The approach will create significant confusion among users, as [Google Play] will always attract [billions] of users who will search Fortnite and run into dead ends that are not clear on how to resolve ”.

Epic’s lawsuit was recently linked to a much larger state antitrust complaint against Google. Like Epic, a group of state attorneys general allege Android is much less open than Google claims, saying the cuts create deliberate hurdles – including Android phone functionality and deals with phone makers. – to restrict third party app stores and discourage downloading apps directly.

Google also removed some deletions from the state’s complaints, mostly related to its internal descriptions of how Android works. In a 2017 presentation on the Amazon App Store, for example, Google apparently noted that “if we’re being honest, we’ll admit that most users and developers don’t consciously ‘choose’ that they opt for the. default value”. And in 2019, he called Apple and Android “new closed Internet ecosystems” that “centralized the distribution of content through app stores … [and] payments through App Store services ”- although the broader context of these remarks is unclear.

Google strongly denied the allegations in both lawsuits. “The open Android ecosystem allows developers to distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to the developers and keep the store safe for users, ”he said in a previous comment on the amended repository. from Epic. “While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our rules. We will continue to defend ourselves against these baseless claims. “

Epic sued Apple and Google last year after introducing a new Fortnite payment system that bypassed their payment systems and in-app purchase commissions, which led both companies to launch Fortnite out of their mobile stores. (Fortnite is still available on Android devices via sideloading.) The Epic v Apple case went to trial in May and is currently awaiting a court ruling.