Epic expands app store fight even further with new legal claim against Google in Australia

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Epic Games on Wednesday expanded its worldwide legal fight against the dominant mobile app store operators with a new legal claim against Google in Australia. The claim accuses Google of “anti-competitive conduct breaches the Australian Consumer Law” and also accuses the search giant of violating the country’s Competition and Consumer Act of 2010.

The legal claim follows a similar action against Apple in Australia filed last November, and Epic’s legal fight against app stores now spans the European Union, the UK, and the US in addition to Australia.

The main thrust of the complaint is one we’ve heard before — that it’s due time Apple and Google allow app makers to bypass the 30 percent cut through either alternative app stores or alternative in-app payment systems — and it’s now a common rallying cry for the growing number of companies, app developers, and regulators taking on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.

Epic says Google “abuses its control over the Android operating system, restricting competition in payment processing and app distribution on the Google Play Store. This harmful conduct stifles innovation, reduces consumer choice and inflates prices,” the press release states.

“Google gives the illusion of being open by making arguments about the presence of alternative app stores on its platform or allowing direct downloading of apps from third party providers, but in reality these situations are so rare that they barely make a dent in the monopoly of the Android OS,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said in a statement.

“The barriers Google places on Android OS are real,” Sweeney adds. He refers to actions Google takes, like warning users about downloading software outside the Play Store, as methods to scare users into only downloading approved software. “It’s actions like this that illustrate Google is more interested in feigning openness than delivering choice to consumers. We believe consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace.”

This argument differs slightly from the one Epic has used against Apple in similar proceedings, as Google allows alternative app stores and side-loading of apps not approved by the Play Store. But “Google also makes it egregiously difficult to download apps directly onto Android devices, forcing the vast majority of users to obtain apps through the Google Play Store,” Epic argues. Epic says it’s also “participating in the Australian competition regulator’s review of mobile app marketplaces.”

Epic expands app store fight even further with new legal claim against Google in Australia

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