- “Fortnite”/Epic Games
- Epic Games is submitting “Fortnite” to the Google Play app store but is demanding an exemption from Google’s 30% tax on in-app purchases.
- “We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30% fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50% market share,” Epic said in a statement.
- Previously, “Fortnite” was available to download for Android users only via the Epic store, as Epic wanted to avoid Google’s levy.
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The creators behind “Fortnite” are asking Google to allow the game on the Google Play app store while simultaneously calling the company monopolistic for exacting a tax on in-app purchases.
As first reported by Google 9to5, the “Fortnite” creator Epic Games is planning to submit the game to Google Play, where it has been absent since its launch on Android in August 2018.
Android players have previously had to download the game directly from Epic’s site, a technique known as sideloading. This was done explicitly to circumvent Google’s 30% tax, which CEO Tim Sweeney previously told Business Insider was “disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform.”
The method led to some criticism, however, after it exposed a major security flaw that would allow hackers to gain access to a player’s phone.
Epic confirmed to Business Insider that not only was it submitting the game to Google, but it’s asking for an exemption from Google’s standard 30% tax on in-app purchases.
“Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard,” Sweeney told Business Insider in a statement.
While “Fortnite” is free to download, players can purchase cosmetic modifications to their character. This is the game’s main source of revenue, and it’s these purchases that Google taxes.
“We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase,” Sweeney said in the statement. “We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30% fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50% market share.”
According to Google 9to5’s sources, Epic would sidestep the tax by using the in-game currency V-Bucks rather than Google payments.
“We note that Google Play’s Developer Distribution Agreement does not require developers use Google payments. It merely references a number of non-contractual documents asking developers to do so,” Sweeney said.
“Further, Epic operates a major PC storefront and payment service and we do not force developers using our store to use our payment ecosystem,” he added.
This isn’t the first time “Fortnite” has gone head-to-head with a tech giant to change its policies, in September last year it strong-armed Sony into abandoning its ban on cross-play between PlayStation and other consoles. So far Google doesn’t seem convinced, as it put out a statement saying it expected Epic to play by the same rules as everybody else on the Play store.
“Android enables multiple app stores and choices for developers to distribute apps,” a Google representative told Business Insider. “Google Play has a business model and billing policy that allow us to invest in our platform and tools to help developers build successful businesses while keeping users safe. We welcome any developer that recognizes the value of Google Play and expect them to participate under the same terms as other developers.”
Apple also leverages a 30% tax on in-app purchases, but Apple devices don’t allow apps to be downloaded from anywhere else other than the App Store. Apple has also been criticized for the tax by the music-streaming giant Spotify, which filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union in March.