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  • Voltaire Staff

Google ruthless bully: Epic Games CEO tells court


Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia


Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has characterised Google as a "ruthless bully," alleging the firm employed dubious tactics to safeguard a predatory payment structure.


Sweeney made the remarks Monday during his testimony in an antitrust trial centred on Epic Games' endeavour to disrupt Google's Android app store.


Sweeney's testimony, lasting for more than two hours in San Francisco, came in the wake of Google CEO Sundar Pichai defending his company's management of the Android app Play Store before a 10-member jury.


The trial is one of two antitrust cases challenging Google, whose $1.7 trillion tech empire faces legal threats and even a dismantling.


Scheduled to conclude before Christmas, the Android phone app case shares the legal stage with another case spotlighting Google search engine, which recently ended but awaits a federal judge's ruling in Washington DC next year.


Google attorney Jonathan Kravis' cross-examination of Sweeney was apparently focussed on showing him as an executive primarily focused on circumventing established commission structures to bolster his gaming company's profits.


Epic Games, creator of Fortnite, has accused Google of price-gouging by collecting commissions ranging from 15 per cent to 30 per cent on in-app digital transactions — the charge is similar to a system Epic contested unsuccessfully in a parallel lawsuit against Apple's iPhone app store, now under appeal at the US Supreme Court.


Unlike Apple's closed iPhone app store, Google permits competition on the Play Store — a window Epic attempted to take advantage of when it released Fortnite for Android phones in 2018 through its website, bypassing the Play Store.


Sweeney in his testimony recalled a meeting at Google's Mountain View headquarters, where Google attempted to persuade Epic to launch Fortnite on the Play Store, offering various financial incentives, which Sweeney rejected, dubbing them a "crooked arrangement."


After rebuffing Google's advances, Epic's efforts to distribute Fortnite independently encountered obstacles, leading Sweeney to describe Google as a formidable adversary capable of obstruction.


Despite releasing Fortnite on the Play Store in 2020, Epic initiated "Project Liberty," covertly introducing an alternate payment option, which was swiftly blocked by Apple and Google.


During his cross-examination, Kravis highlighted Epic's substantial profits from transactions on consoles like PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch, where Epic pays similar commissions without complaint.


Sweeney, responding to a juror's question, disclosed that consoles and PCs generated over 90 per cent of Epic's revenue from in-app purchases in 2020, yet he aimed for the trial's outcome to prove Google's violations.

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