Fortnite Maker Scores Epic Victory Over Google In High-Profile App Store Lawsuit

hero epic vs google trial
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is celebrating an early Christmas gift, as a California jury found Google guilty of being a monopoly after four weeks of intense testimony. Sweeney posted a celebratory tweet following the verdict, stating that the court’s work on remedies will begin in January.

The epic court battle between Epic Games and Google shed light on some of Google’s more glaring oversteps in the world of Android phones. One of those was a project codenamed Project Banyan. Vice President for Partnerships at Google, James Kolotouros, shared testimony during the trial that Google had a plan to share advertisement revenue it would receive from Google Search with Android phone makers to persuade them to release more software updates and better maintain smartphones. Samsung was perhaps the biggest winner in Project Banyan, raking in more than half of the revenue.

Jurors had to fill out a form during deliberation that asked 11 questions, with some having a subset of questions. An example is question 1, which was, “Did Epic prove, by a preponderance of the evidence and in accordance with the instructions given to you, the existence of a relevant antitrust market?” If the answer was “Yes,” they were to continue to question 2. If the answer was “No,” they were to skip to question 6. The jury answered “Yes” to all 11 questions.

tim sweeney twitter post epic win

In a post on X/Twitter, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney exclaimed, “Victory over Google!” Sweeney added, “After 4 weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against Google Play monopoly on all counts. The Court’s work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and faith! Free Fortnite!”

Google immediately responded to the verdict, stating it would appeal the verdicts. Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google, Wilson White, added, “We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem.”

A large part of Google’s defense was that the company had to lower its fee structure in order to compete with Apple. Google’s lawyer, Jonathon Kravis, explained during closing arguments, “Google does not want to lose 60 million Android users to Apple every year.”

It was clear the jury did not buy into Google’s defense of its practices when it came to the Google Play Store. Now that the Epic vs. Google battle has come to a close (or at least a pause, pending appeal), Epic will turn its focus on its next battle of reviving some of the claims made against Apple in a 2021 court case.

**Update 12/11/2023 11:35am EST: HotHardware received a statement from an Epic Games spokesperson concerning the Epic vs. Google verdict. The statement remarked in full, "Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world. It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation.

Over the course of the trial we saw evidence that Google was willing to pay billions of dollars to stifle alternative app stores by paying developers to abandon their own store efforts and direct distribution plans, and offering highly lucrative agreements with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding competing app stores.

These deals were meant to cement Google’s dominance as the only app store in town - and it worked. More than 95% of apps are distributed through the Play Store on Android.

Google imposes a 30% tax on developers simply because they have prevented any viable competitors from emerging to offer better deals. And Google executives acknowledged in Court that their offer of a 26% rate on third party payment options is a fake choice for developers.

This is, of course, what we know. From the CEO down, Google employees willfully re-directed sensitive conversations to chat, knowing that their contents would be deleted forever.

The evidence presented in this case demonstrates the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones, including with promising legislation in progress right now with the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill in the UK and the Digital Markets Act in the EU.

Thank you to the Court for hearing this important case and for the next steps determining the remedies that will right Google’s decades of anticompetitive conduct.

And thank you to the jury for their historic decision. The one million game developers who couldn't be here thank you!"