Since Fortnite was pulled from the App Store a year ago, most of the attention has focused on the lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple, which is currently under consideration by a judge. But Google also booted Fortnite from the Play Store on the very same day. The lawsuit between Epic and Google is also ongoing, and we just got a little insight into some of the facts, or at least alleged facts, of that case.
The headline you'll see all around the internet today is "Google considered buying Epic" or some variation thereof. While that makes for a punchy lead-in, it also serves to make it sound like fact, because your eyes might skim over the "Epic alleges" that comes after it; hence, our headline starts with the claim, which, as the Verge points out, isn't necessarily factual.
The quote from the court filing reads: "Google ... has even contemplated buying some or all of Epic to squelch this threat" -- the "threat" being Epic's oh-so-noble goal of providing alternatives for customers (and make more money for Epic). Epic's allegation stems from internal documents it claims to possess, which Google has said "is baseless and mischaracterizes our business conversations." Of course, when one's talking about multi-billion-dollar companies, they're naturally going to deny anything that makes them look bad (case in point), so you can't 100% believe Google here either. It's a big case of "he said, no I didn't," with neither entity really doing much to earn the benefit of the doubt.
Adding further credence to the notion that it's all a bunch of hooey is the fact that even Epic CEO Tim Sweeney appeared to be unaware of the "offer":
This was unbeknownst to us at the time, and because of the court’s protective order we’re just finding out now about Google’s consideration of buying Epic to shut down our efforts to compete with Google Play.https://t.co/HSS1edUrQm
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 6, 2021
The Verge article goes on to state that Google might have offered a "special deal" to launch Fortnite on the Play Store via sideloading, which a Google rep described as a "frankly abysmal" process. On that, we can probably at least agree.
So Google maybe did and maybe didn't attempt to buy Epic. I can believe that the "offer" was just floated in a board room as an offhand mention and was never meant to be spoken of outside of that one meeting. Nevertheless, it makes for an interesting "What if?" -- assuming you can overcome the question of how Google would potentially have interacted with Tencent, which owns 40% of Epic.
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About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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