What you need to know
- Court documents from Epic Games' lawsuit against Google claim the search giant blocked a pre-install deal between Epic and phone manufacturers.
- The deal would have seen the Epic Games app installed out of the box on OnePlus and LG devices.
- With the deals nixed, Epic Games introduced Fortnite on the Play Store earlier this year.
Epic Games rolled out an update to Fortnite that allowed players to buy in-game currency directly from Epic, in contradiction to Play Store's guidelines. As a result, Google removed Fortnite from the Play Store, leading to Epic suing the search giant.
Interestingly, the court documents claim that Google blocked a deal between OnePlus and Epic that would have seen the Epic Games app — the conduit for installing Fortnite — pre-installed on OnePlus phones. The filing alleges Google was worried about the app "bypassing the Google Play Store," essentially serving other games to users outside the purview of the Play Store.
Google does not allow apps that can install other apps, and while there are alternative store fronts on Android like Samsung's Galaxy Store, in this instance Google was able to kill the deal.
Interestingly, the lawsuit claims that Epic made a deal with OnePlus to distribute the Epic Games app on OnePlus phones but Google forced them to renege for bypassing the Play Store. But the Galaxy Store bypasses the Play Store the same way. pic.twitter.com/UjpMTNAvXWInterestingly, the lawsuit claims that Epic made a deal with OnePlus to distribute the Epic Games app on OnePlus phones but Google forced them to renege for bypassing the Play Store. But the Galaxy Store bypasses the Play Store the same way. pic.twitter.com/UjpMTNAvXW— Daniel Bader (@journeydan) August 14, 2020August 14, 2020
The documents allege that Google also thwarted a deal between LG and Epic to pre-install the Epic Games app on its phones. When Fortnite launched two years ago, Epic did not make the game available on the Play Store. It instead directed users to its website to install the Epic Games launcher, which installed the game on Android. But with Google issuing security warnings for sideloaded content, Epic turned to inking deals with manufacturers to get its app installed out of the box.
The Epic Games app is available on the Samsung Galaxy Store, and by securing deals with OnePlus and LG, Epic would have had a viable alternative to getting users to sideloading Fortnite. But once those deals were history, Epic wound up releasing Fortnite on the Play Store earlier this year.
From the lawsuit:
Mishaal Rahman of XDA found evidence of Epic Games being pre-installed in the OxygenOS open beta 14 for the OnePlus 7 Pro in India, but the feature never made it to the public build:
Here's a screenshot I saved showing Epic Games was going to be pre-installed in OxygenOS for users in India. pic.twitter.com/5sCPdcwPAvHere's a screenshot I saved showing Epic Games was going to be pre-installed in OxygenOS for users in India. pic.twitter.com/5sCPdcwPAv— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 14, 2020August 14, 2020
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.