Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Epic Games’ CEO, Tim Sweeney, finally had his day in court in the legal battle against Google. He testified in a San Francisco federal courthouse on Monday, and this was a long-awaited moment for him.

The conflict between the companies began in the summer of 2020 when Epic, the company behind the popular game Fortnite, wanted Google to stop charging app developers a 30 percent fee for purchases on its Play Store for Android devices.

When Google refused, Epic installed its own payment system in the Fortnite app on Android devices, charging consumers a lower price.

In response, Google removed Fortnite from its Play Store on August 13, 2020. On the same day, Mr. Sweeney sued Google, accusing the tech giant of exerting monopolistic control over mobile game developers on its Play Store.

“I want everybody to see and understand Google exercises de facto control over the availability of apps on Android,” said Mr. Sweeney from the witness stand on Monday.

In 2021, a federal judge rejected most of Epic’s arguments in a similar case against Apple. Now, a nine-person jury will determine whether Google violated antitrust laws. This trial is expected to conclude next month and could have significant implications.

If Epic prevails, Google could be required to allow other companies to offer competing payment systems on the Play Store.

During the trial, Mr. Sweeney has been present almost every day. He was determined to go to trial alone, as Google had settled with other plaintiffs in the case. He insisted that his goal was to distribute games to more users, and Google’s fee was preventing Epic from expanding its business.

Mr. Kravis also pushed Mr. Sweeney on his claim about passing the savings from the fees to customers. Even though Mr. Sweeney did not deny the allegation, he said Epic was saving about 3 percent from not using a payment processor. He also mentioned that a contract with Sony prevented Epic from selling Fortnite’s in-game product for less than its price on PlayStation. Additionally, Apple and Microsoft were paid nothing when Epic distributed such products through the companies’ personal computers.

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