Google is currently in the midst of defending itself against a US lawsuit that takes issue with the Play Store requirement to use Google’s in-app billing, which takes a cut of revenue. Recently unsealed court documents have surfaced interesting details regarding Google and Epic Games, including that Google once called sideloading on Android an “awful experience.”
The ability to sideload apps on Android devices is a central argument in Google’s favor in the ongoing lawsuit, but a quote from a Google manager to Epic Games undermines it a fair bit. In an email interchange, a Google Play manager apparently called sideloading an “awful experience” and “frankly abysmal” while discussing Epic Games’ plan to distribute Fortnite as a direct download APK (via The Verge).
One manager contacted Epic’s Vice President and Co-Founder to gauge Epic’s interest in a special deal and, among other things, discussed “the experience of getting Fortnite on Android” via direct downloading. The manager’s call notes state that she viewed direct downloading Fortnite as “frankly abysmal” and “an awful experience”, and that Epic should “worry that most will not go through the 15+ steps.”
Other points from the document brought out that sideloading was something that Google directly knew would “drastically limit Epic’s reach” on Android, saying that the method would lead to “significant user confusion.”
Further, Epic quoted an alleged internal Google document, which apparently called Epic’s plans a “contagion” that threatened Google and that the tech giant had “contemplated buying some or all” of Epic Games to eliminate it. In a tweet, Epic’s CEO said the company was unaware of Google’s efforts at the time.
As pointed out in a newsletter from The Information, though, this point is possibly a bit of sensationalism. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney is the majority stakeholder of the company, so even if Google wanted to purchase the company, it would ultimately be Sweeney’s decision.
In a previous comment about this situation, Google said that it would “continue to defend [itself] against these meritless claims.”
More on Google:
- US states file lawsuit over requirement that apps in Play Store must use Google IAP billing system
- Epic Games apparently offered Fortnite for Stadia in exchange for free access to Play Store
- Google’s first ads on TikTok heavily promote Google Lens [Video]
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