Epic says Google forms ‘Fortnite task force’ to protect fees

Google has set up a task force to prevent Android users from downloading the popular game Fortnite outside of its Play Store, Epic Games is alleged in an unrelated court filing made public on Monday.

The move helped Google lock in fees from the game but contradicts the idea of ​​Android being an “open” platform, according to a legal filing from Epic, Fortnite.

Epic sued Google and Apple, accusing them of operating a monopoly by charging a 30% fee for in-app purchases. Epic pass away on most targets against Apple, but won request seek permission for developers to provide users with other payment options. Both sides have appealed.

However, the case against Google is more complicated because Android app developers are not obligated to distribute their apps via the Play Store, while Apple’s App Store is the only place where users can download the app.

Epic argues in the lawsuit that the ability for users to “side-load” apps from third-party stores, or directly from the web, is more theory than reality.

When Fortnite – the world’s most popular game – rolled out direct download in August 2018 and made distribution available through Samsung’s Galaxy Store, Google was concerned the trend could spread further and has started launched a campaign to try to prevent users from switching to options outside of the Play Store, according to unverified court filings.

“Despite Google’s public view that Android is an ‘open’ platform, when Google is faced with a serious attempt by a developer to distribute a popular app outside of Google Play, executives Google executives have taken urgent steps to maintain Google’s monopoly over the distribution of Android Apps,” Epic alleges in the filing.

Those steps include creating a “Fortnite the task force” met daily in August 2018 to respond to Epic’s challenge, the filing said, citing internal Google emails.

The task force was able to find a theoretical vulnerability in the installer application for Fortnite. Epic alleges it used this as an excuse to scare users away from downloading, launched a media campaign to post stories about the issue, and published a blog that deemed it “a security hole.” extremely critical”, although a Google insider called it “not a critical (or even high) vulnerability”.

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Epic cited an internal email in which Google’s head of security for Android called Google’s warning to users “inappropriately catastrophic for the wide variety of (vulnerabilities) we’re working on.” see. . . from other developers”.

Google responded to the profile in a statement: “Epic released Fortnite on Android has a security hole that could compromise consumer data. Safety and security are our top priorities, so of course we’ve taken steps to warn users about this security bug in accordance with our app privacy policy. We will continue to fight Epic’s claims in court. “

Epic originally filed its complaint in August 2020. In a counter-suit, Google accused Epic of violating the terms of the developer agreement. The test date has not been decided yet.

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