Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Google in 2020, claiming that Google was operating an unlawful monopoly due to its in-app purchase fees in the Google Play Store. That same year, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple, since the company's App Store also takes a 30% cut of in-app purchase fees. Epic Games challenged Google and Apple's practices in an effort to circumvent these fees and streamline the use of third party payment processors. In 2021, Epic's claims against Apple were rejected, and subsequent appeals ultimately ruled in favor of Apple in April 2023, nearly three years after the lawsuit was first filed. Epic's lawsuit against Google is still ongoing after the case went to trial in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on November 7.
According to a report by The Verge, Sweeney claims that Epic Games cannot pass on savings to customers due to prices currently set for in-game items on Sony platforms. The Epic CEO says "we cannot sell out of PlayStation at a lower price than we sell on PlayStation," likely referring to a most-favored nations (MFN) clause. The MFN clause prevents Epic from selling in-game items cheaper than the prices found on PlayStation. Sweeney says this particular clause is a standard part of PlayStation contracts. However, Google believes Epic's deal with Sony is shady, since Sony is now an Epic Games shareholder.
Moreover, Sweeney admits that V-Bucks are more profitable in the PC version of Fortnite due to the lack of fees that Google and Apple would normally incur for Fortnite's Android and iOS versions. In the trial, Google's lawyer asks Sweeney if Epic Games would make millions of dollars more if Fortnite had an Epic direct payment option. Sweeney laughed and agreed by saying that Epic could make billions of dollars if he could avoid paying Google.
Sweeney's claim might encourage some scrutiny from Fortnite players towards Sony, since the community could be saving more on V-Buck purchases if the implied MFN clause wasn't active. However, this clause is designed to protect consumers and companies alike, and this sort of deal appears to be common for Sony's third party partners.
We cannot sell out of PlayStation at a lower price than we sell on PlayStation.
Unsurprisingly, Google is strongly against the use of third-party payment processing for in-app purchases on its Google Play Store, and the company cites potential security risks and negative impacts on the user experience. Epic Games seemingly has an uphill battle ahead as the company attempts to avoid a similar ruling from the Apple lawsuit and secure more future earnings from its games across mobile platforms.
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