Epic Games continues to rack up legal battles with app store owners. This time, Google is suing Epic for breach of contract. Epic has signed contracts with Google and Apple, pledging to use their default payment systems for inline purchases. As part of its campaign for more open payment systems, however (and to dodge each platform’s 30% fee), Epic has boldly released updates to its Fortnite game on Android and iOS that have rocked the processing of payments for integrated purchases from platforms to Epic’s in-house payment system, highlighting the savings made by mobile users. Google and Apple both allege the action was a violation of their app store contracts with Epic.
In 2018, Epic made a bold bet: to bring its Fortnite game to Android by deciding to do without Google and the 30% commission earned for apps published on the Play Store.
On August 9, we launched the Fortnite Android beta on select devices from our partners at Samsung. A few days later, we sent out invitations to a subset of Android device owners from various handset makers. We’ve learned a lot from the beta when it comes to performance, safety, device compatibility, and the delivery of Fortnite on Android through the Fortnite Installer, the team says in a lengthy tech post.
What was the result a month later? In the first 21 days after Fortnite launched on Android, interest has been very high, with over 23 million players entering our Android beta and over 15 million players having our APK installed. While we’re in an Android invite-only phase, our conversion of invited players to play is similar to the iOS beta, Epic explains.
Delivering the same game on all platforms, while supporting believe play, presented a unique challenge. Typically, when you try to scale a game for mobile devices, you simplify the content and even the design, in order to adapt to the performance constraints of the platform. For example, you can eliminate objects closer to the camera to reduce drawing calls. In Fortnite, Android players can be in the same game with their friends on PC and console, so we have to render everything that affects gameplay.
Work carried out with several partners
Since January 2018, Epic has worked with a large team on the Android version of FNBR. While most of their effort was spent on rendering, stability and memory, the number and variety of Android hardware, OS versions, and driver versions was the main hurdle to overcome.
Also, it was crucial for Epic to work with partners in order to bring Fortnite Android. Moreover, Epic recognizes that without their knowledge, expertise and hard work, this would not have been possible.
We have worked closely with Samsung to define and optimize Fortnite for their devices. Samsung sent engineers to several Epic offices around the world and worked directly with our engineers on optimizations and performance analysis, and made many code changes, especially for the Vulkan renderer. Using instrument test phones and their in-house engineering tools, they were able to give us insight into our performance and memory bottlenecks and how to resolve them. We have also worked with Samsung to create the most seamless and secure installation process possible for Samsung phone users.
Google engineers also visited us on site to identify and optimize Fortnite, helping us identify key optimizations, a memory leak, and crafting a solid frame-boosting implementation for OpenGL on Android. Google’s Android engineers are very talented and passionate about making the Android ecosystem great for gaming and constantly improving it.
Epic has also worked with other partners to test and optimize Fortnite, including ARM, Qualcomm, Imagination Technologies, Razer, HiSilicon and many more.
The last attempt at negotiation
In 2019, Epic Games approached the subsidiary of Alphabet to offer to host its new game Fortnite on the Play Store, but under certain conditions: the studio wanted to keep all of the revenue from purchases integrated into its game.
In response, Google cracked a comment explaining: Google Play has a business model and payment policy that allows us to develop our platform and tools to help developers generate money while keeping our users safe. We welcome all developers who recognize the value of Google Play and expect both of them to participate on the same terms as the others. Clearly, the Mountain View firm did not see why Fortnite, despite its great success, should benefit from preferential treatment on the Play Store.
Following Google’s comments, Epic Games reacted to expose the real motivations for its recent market (denounce the illegal and abusive nature of Google’s compensation system on the Play Store):
We did not ask for an exception for us; rather we hope to see a general change in the practices of the smartphone industry on this subject. We have asked Google not to apply its measure for products distributed by Google Play to use Google’s service for in-app purchases. We believe that linking a mandatory payment service to a 30% commission is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with more than 50% market share.
Epic Games also drew attention to the fact that the Google Play Developers Distribution Agreement does not require developers to use Google’s payment system. It simply references a number of non-contractual documents asking developers to do so. The Fortnite editor went on to recall that it offers a major PC games store with a payment service and that it does not force developers to use its store to access its payment ecosystem.
Epic decides to bow down after a standoff that will have lasted more than a year
In April 2020, Epic gave up its fight against the platform and finally made Fortnite available on the Google Play Store.
The reason for this turnaround is explained by the company in a press release:
Google disadvantages downloadable software outside of Google Play, through technical and commercial measures such as frightening and repetitive security pop-up windows for downloaded and updated software, restrictive agreements and transactions with manufacturers and operators, Google’s public policies characterizing third-party software sources like malware and new efforts like Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside of the Google Play Store.
Part of this statement could refer to a security issue between Google and Epic just after the game launched on Android. Epic fixed a potential vulnerability of the Android Fortnite installer after being privately alerted to it by Google. In practice, this vulnerability allowed a hacker to bypass the download process to install malicious applications instead of downloading the game from the Epic server, which left the user vulnerable in what is commonly referred to as the man-in-the-middle attack ( HDM) or man-in-the-middle attack (MITM).
But when Google revealed the (first) vulnerability a week after the patch was released, Epic said it was irresponsible for Google to publicly disclose the technical details of the flaw so quickly, when many installations had yet to. were updated and were still vulnerable. Epic also blamed the disclosure on Google’s counter-public relations efforts against Epic’s distribution of Fortnite outside of Google Play.
Subsequently, in an update, Epic offered mobile users on Android and iOS to benefit from a rebate if they chose to make payments through its payment system rather than through the App Store and Play Store. This earned him to be ejected from these platforms and marked the beginning of a succession of legal battles.
Google sues Epic after Apple’s success
Apple sued Epic and won the court ruling last month. Epic was ordered to pay $ 3.65 million in damages, covering Apple’s loss of revenue from Epic’s three months of auto-support payments. Following this decision, Google also wants its missing money and launches a counterattack in the hope of a similar decision.
Google Complaint Says: Epic Deliberately Breached DDA [Accord de distribution des dveloppeurs] by submitting a version of Fortnite for publication on Google Play with a payment method other than Google Play billing for in-app content purchases. In doing so, Epic denied Google its service charge under the DDA for any purchases made through the app other than Google Play billing.
Google goes on * by saying that: * Users who downloaded the non-compliant version of Fortnite before it was removed from Google Play can still use Epic’s corrected external payment mechanism to make in-app purchases, which allows Epic to bypass it. its contractually agreed service charges with Google for these purchases.
Google argues that Epic has alternately enriched itself unfairly at Google’s expense and is asking for the restitution of its missing income and its damages and interests.
Google’s complaint also takes time to draw a clear line between Android and iOS, saying that unlike competitors like Apple, Google does not require Android users or developers to use Google Play to download, install or distribute. apps on Android and most Android phones come pre-loaded with several app stores. Google says consumers and developers don’t need to use Google Play *; they choose to use it when given the choice between android app stores and distribution channels.
The implication: If Epic doesn’t like the Play Store rules, it’s free to go elsewhere.
Source : Google
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