Epic Games, the video game business behind the popular Fortnite app, has sued Google and accused the company of “doing evil” after it removed Fortnite from its app store.
The legal action against Google came hours after Epic launched another lawsuit against Apple in which it made similar accusations that Apple controls a monopoly over apps on its iPhones.
The removal of the Fortnite app by both Apple and Google came after Epic began allowing players to bypass Apple and Google’s app stores to buy in-game items without handing a cut of each purchase to the companies which run the app stores.
Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices.— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
Visit https://t.co/K3S07w5uEk and join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming "1984" https://t.co/tpsiCW4gqK
While Fortnite is free to download, many players spend money to upgrade their characters and weapons in the game. In total, the games have seen users spend more than $1bn (£763m) on Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store, according to analysts Sensor Tower.
In response, both Apple and Google removed the Fortnite app from their app stores for breaking their rules on skirting restrictions.
The ban means players can no longer update Fortnite, the battle royale game with more than 250m players, on their phones. For now, gamers on mobile phones can continue to play, but over time they will lose access to the latest missions, called Seasons, where users battle against other players.
In its legal filing on Thursday, Epic accused Google of abandoning its famous “don’t be evil” motto.
“Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize,” the company wrote in its legal filing.
Elsewhere in the filing, Epic claimed that Google had introduced “confusing and threatening” warnings to its Android operating system which deterred people from downloading Fortnite from outside of Google’s Play Store.
Attempting to download the Fortnite app from a web browser, rather than the official store, is "filled with dire warnings that scare most consumers into abandoning the lengthy process,” Epic claimed in its legal filings.
While it is possible to download Fortnite outside of Google's Play Store, on iPhones it is almost impossible to avoid using the App Store, meaning millions of players will lose access to the latest content in the games.
A Google spokesman said: “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users.”
“While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”