Google denies Epic's request to be exempt from the Play Store's 30% fee

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There are some facts in life that are indisputable. The sky is blue. Water is wet. Epic Games can’t seem to stay out of disputes over distributions of its games. This time the company has found itself in a gridlock with Google over Fortnite on the Play Store (via The Verge).

When Fortnite first landed on Android in 2018, Epic distributed it independently from Google’s Play Store and cited its fees as one of the main reasons for doing so. It appears that after a year Epic has planned to submit it to Google with the stipulation that it would be exempt from Google’s standard 30% cut of all in-app transactions. Google denied Epic’s request, and noted that Epic did not request the same from Apple, where Epic presumably pays the same 30% fee to distribute Fortnite through the iOS Store.

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In a statement to The Verge, Epic painted itself in a less inflammatory light.

Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard.

We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase. We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30% fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50% market share.

We note that Google Play’s Developer Distribution Agreement does not require developers use Google payments. It merely references a number of non-contractual documents asking developers to do so.

Further, Epic operates a major PC storefront and payment service and we do not force developers using our store to use our payment ecosystem.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has been outspoken for his disdain of fees like this across the industry at large, and he does not believe that they offer enough value to warrant such a cut of revenue. Epic’s own online storefront splits revenue 88/12 between the developer and itself, which is viewed as much more reasonable.

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