Google confirmed in court that Epic offered it a $147 million deal to launch its hit game fortnite On Google Play Store for Android. The deal, which Google’s vice president of Play partnerships, Poornima Kochekar, says was approved and presented to Epic but not accepted, will see the money distributed over three years of “incremental funding” (ending in 2021) for the games publisher. It was intended to stop the potential “infection” of popular apps that bypass the official Android store, and with them, Google’s lucrative in-app purchase fees.
The saga has been launched fortnite On Android in 2018 directly through its website, avoiding the Play Store. This allowed her to sell fortnite In-game currency V-Bucks without paying the commission required for Play Store apps. It backed down in 2020, saying “creepy and frequent security pop-ups” and other factors put it at a severe disadvantage.
But in an antitrust lawsuit filed later that year — which is currently being argued before a jury — it claimed that its initial decision had panicked Google. It cited internal documents claiming that Google feared a “risk of contagion” if other game developers (including Blizzard, Valve, Sony, and Nintendo) followed Epic’s lead, and claimed that Google had tried to prevent this by offering special benefits or even buying Epic.
Documents of the “contagion” surfaced in court on Tuesday when Lawrence Koh, the former head of Google Play’s gaming business development, took over the platform. They anticipated Google’s concerns that nearly all major game developers would defect from Play within two years of Epic’s decision, costing Google billions of dollars in total revenue. Documents presented in court are expected fortnite The absence could result in an immediate revenue loss of between $130 and $250 million, and then a broader loss of up to $3.6 billion if such a massive defection occurs.
Google’s position is that He was We’re concerned about losing games on Play, but there’s nothing outrageous about it. “We just wanted developers to choose Play,” especially when Apple’s iOS was an alternative, Kochikar testified. Koh testified that getting the games on the service “was an investment that we thought was worth all those dollars.”
Conversely, Epic uses these documents to argue that Google feared competition for Android app distribution and maintained its Play Store as an illegal monopoly. The existence of this deal doesn’t prove that, but it’s at least an interesting look at how Google views its gaming business.
Sean Hollister contributed reporting.
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