After a month-long trial but just over three hours of deliberation, a nine-person federal jury in San Francisco ruled in favor of Epic, concluding that Google held an illegal monopoly over the Google Play Store and engaged in practices that undercut Epic Games’ ability to compete fairly.
The jury concluded that Google’s conduct not only affected Epic Games, but potentially harmed many developers dependent on the Android marketplace for their business.
“Victory over Google!” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said on X. “After four weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. The Court’s work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and faith! Free Fortnite!”
Victory over Google! After 4 weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. The Court’s work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and faith! Free Fortnite! https://t.co/ITm4YBHCus
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) December 12, 2023
What this means
The decision is a major loss for Google, which has consistently been able to withstand legal attacks from other game makers. Google may now have to change its Play Store rules, opening up the possibility for an alternate app marketplace on the Android platform. It may also affect the rates Google charges developers for in-app purchases, currently set at a substantial 15-30%.
Presiding Judge James Donato is expected to define the specific remedies of the Epic Games case early next year, but the decision carries significant implications for the industry. Other Big Tech companies may now be vulnerable to challenges on how they control pricing and payments on their platforms. It’s also bad news for Google, which is also embroiled in another high-profile antitrust trial in Washington, D.C., over its search and advertising sectors.
Ruled a monopoly
Google’s lawyers argued that the company couldn’t possibly hold a monopoly because it competed with Apple’s app store, the largest in the world. But that didn’t sway the jury, who saw pages of internal Google documents and emails. At one point during the trial, the judge issued a stern reprimand to Google for deleting chats that could have been pertinent to the case.
Today’s ruling came two years after Epic mostly lost a similar case against Apple — a ruling that both sides are trying to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the repercussions of this case are expected to be felt widely, standing as a stark reminder that even the seemingly untouchable Goliaths of the tech industry are subject to the law.