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Google forced OnePlus to decimate a Fortnite launcher deal, claims Epic Games

Google forced OnePlus to decimate a Fortnite launcher deal, claims Epic Games


Epic sued Google after the search company kicked Fortnite from the Play Store

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Image: OnePlus

Epic Games sued Google over pulling Fortnite from the Google Play Store Thursday evening, following a similar lawsuit against Apple.

We might have expected that. What we didn’t expect: Epic claims that Google forced phone manufacturer OnePlus to break off a deal that would have seen a special Fortnite launcher preinstalled on OnePlus phones — and demanded that another Android phonemaker, LG, abandon any plans to do the same.

With OnePlus, Epic claims that Google “forced OnePlus to renege on the deal” after Google expressed ‘concern’ about Epic’s ability to bypass the Play Store. Epic also alleges that the original deal between Epic and OnePlus would have made the launcher available worldwide, but Google “demanded that OnePlus not implement its agreement with Epic with the limited exception of mobile devices sold in India.”

Epic also alleges that Google “prevented LG from pre-installing the Epic Games app on LG devices” because — in LG’s words, apparently — LG had a contract “to block side downloading off Google Play Store this year.”

Google declined to comment on the specifics of these deals when contacted by The Verge.

Without Google blocking these sorts of deals, Epic argues, the studio “could and would negotiate with OEMs to make Fortnite and other Epic games directly available to consumers, free from Google’s anti-competitive restraints.” Instead, after these deals were apparently scuttled, Epic gave in and wound up releasing Fortnite on the Play Store this April. (It did wind up working with OnePlus on a different Fortnite feature.)

But today, Google kicked Fortnite from the Play Store for violating the store’s policies after Epic implemented a new payment mechanism that allowed players to pay Epic directly for in-game currency. (It still offered the option to pay through Google’s payment mechanism, but for a higher price.) Epic’s complaint against Google alleges the company is violating the Sherman Act and California’s Cartwright Act by having a monopoly on the payment systems on the Play Store.

Apple booted Fortnite from the App Store store on Thursday for similar reasons to Google, and shortly after, Epic sued the iPhone-maker, alleging similar complaints as it did against Google. Epic also parodied Apple’s iconic “1984” ad.

Update, 10:45PM ET: Added that Google declined to comment.