Inter-developer payments

Although Google fought tooth and nail against it, a win for an underdog video game developer means the Google Play Store could likely soon look a lot different for Android users. Google met its match in December when Epic Games, the creator of the hit video game Fortnite, won on all counts in its antitrust suit against the tech titan. However, the fight is far from over: the court is currently determining what exactly the Google Play Store will look like in the future and heard arguments last week over Epic’s proposed injunction. As Judge Donato of the Northern District of California put it during the hearing, despite Google’s argument that “there’s a terrifying world of chaos and energy that’s just around the corner if there’s competition in the app store market,” the judge “just [doesn’t] buy it.” On the other hand, he said Epic’s proposed injunction – which would bar Google from enforcing “contractual provisions, guidelines or policies, or otherwise imposing technical restrictions, usage frictions, financial terms or in-kind benefits that … restrict, prohibit, impede, disincentivize or deter the distribution of Android apps through an Android app distribution channel other than the Google Play Store” – was “too open-ended.”  Proceedings continue in August, and the parties will have opportunity for closing arguments. In the meantime, we revisit the implications and the stakes of the case, beyond just Google and its Play Store.