Epic Games has emerged as the winner of its three-year legal fight against Google over its running of the Play Store. As reported by The Verge, the jury in the month-long trial in San Francisco, only a few hours after it started deliberations earlier today, has ruled that the Google Play Store, and its billing service, is an illegal monopoly.
In the jury’s verdict, it agreed with Epic’s argument that Google not only has a monopoly on apps for Android via the Google Play Store, but the company also engaged in anti-competitive practices by paying developers to keep that monopoly in place.
Epic Games posted its reaction to the jury’s verdict on the case on its blog, stating:
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.
The Verge also received a statement on today’s verdict from Wilson White, Google VP, Government Affairs & Public Policy, which indicated the company does plan to appeal the ruling:
We plan to challenge the verdict. Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform. The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles. We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem.
Epic Games first filed a lawsuit against Google in August 2020. This happened after Epic launched its own in-game monetary system for its hit game Fortnite, which went against the policies of both the Google Play Store. Epic filed a similar lawsuit with Apple in 2020. However, the subsequent trial and appeals ended up with Apple winning most of the case.
In the Epic vs Google trial, Epic was not seeking any monetary damages if it won, but it does want Google to completely free up Android to allow it to support full game app stores, with their own billing practices. Those requests will be taken up by the judge in the case in early January 2024.