By Sarah E. Needleman
The creator of “Fortnite” is challenging Google’s policy of taking a cut of payments made for app-related purchases at a time when regulators have started scrutinizing those kind of arrangements between tech companies and their vendors.
Epic Games Inc. is asking Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +1.78% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +1.80% to release in its app store a version of “Fortnite” with a built-in payment system that allows the developer to keep all in-game revenue. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., currently takes a 30% cut for the kind of in-game purchases players make on games downloaded via its app store.
Epic’s move effectively puts Google in the uncomfortable position of having to either approve the game and forgo a lucrative revenue stream or potentially provide antitrust regulators with evidence it may be unduly pressuring smaller companies.
“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 Chief Executive Tim Sweeney said in a statement. “Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard.”
“Fortnite” is free to play and sells virtual currency for real money that users can spend on in-game perks such as avatar costumes and dance moves.
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