When Epic publicly rejected the terms of Apple and Google's app store and pressed the "sue them all" button in 2020, it looked like the fight was starting. Apparently, however, the daggers had already been out for a while and were as sharp as can be. Today we learned that a Google executive went so far as to suggest resolving a disagreement with Epic by making a deal with Tencent to remove control of the company from founder and CEO Tim Sweeney.
Tencent, the Chinese conglomerate that owns Riot Games and parts from many other major developers, owns 40% of Epic Games, while Sweeney is the controlling shareholder. According to a court document filed by Epic today, an unnamed Google executive once suggested that if Epic didn't play well, Google should talk to Tencent about buying some of its Epic shares. " to have more control ”of the Fortnite developer, or that it could even work with Tencent to take over Epic completely.
“Google acknowledged that Epic may not accept its offer,” the document says. "" As a potential alternative, "a senior Google executive suggested that Google" consider approaching Tencent, "a company that owns a minority stake in Epic, to (a) buy shares of Epic in Tencent to get more control over Epic ", or (b) join Tencent to buy 100% of Epic".
The detail comes from a recently unpublished complaint that Epic filed today in the District Court of the Northern United States of California. When we reported on the same complaint a couple of weeks ago, information about Tencent was still obscure along with other details. That was Google's preference, but yesterday the court denied the search giant's request to keep this information sealed, which is why complete document has now been made public.
"It seems, sadly, that Google was really contemplating a coordinated, multinational attempt to host Epic's hostile acquisition in response to the launch of Fortnite off Google Play," Sweeney wrote on Twitter today.
It seems, sadly, that Google was, in fact, contemplating a coordinated, multinational attempt at a hostile acquisition of Epic in response to the launch of Fortnite outside of Google Play. Http://t.co/yJ2dTzis7DAugust 19, 2021
In a statement sent to Protocol, Google called Epic's lawsuit "unfounded" and said the complaint "characterizes" its business conversations. “Android offers more options on mobile devices for developers and consumers,” the company said.
Epic's lawsuit against Google is quite similar to its lawsuit from Apple, which began lawsuits earlier this year. Epic says Google's anti-competitive actions "force app developers and consumers" to use the Google Play Store, where sales are declining, as is Apple's App Store.
The big difference is that Apple's App Store is mandatory for iPhones, but for phones with Google's Android operating system, Epic had the option to launch Fortnite as a side-loading app, which is what it did. According to the file, Google feared that the Fortnite launcher – which would later become the Epic Games Store – would be a "contagion" that would take other people away from the Google Play Store.
Epic presents Google as an intriguer who tried to establish a private deal to prevent it from rejecting the Google Play Store, while launching the idea of a surprise Allied attack on Tencent. The complaint also alleges that Google has made similar agreements with other game publishers, including Activision Blizzard, to keep them in the Google Play Store and describes the agreements Google made with phone manufacturers to prevent them from pre-installing stores. which are not from Google, resulting in "Google Exclusivity".
Epic is seeking a court order forcing Google to stop what Sweeney and the company consider anti-competitive actions. As in the case of Apple, Epic raises the lawsuit as a struggle for software freedom, saying Google has broken its promise to keep "an Android ecosystem open and competitive for all users and industry participants. ".
What follows in Epic v Google is still being resolved (Google wants it rejected) and the verdict in the Epic v Apple trial in May has not yet been announced. We look forward to hearing from the judge in this case later this year.