Epic Games launched a lawsuit against Google earlier today, alleging that the company is engaging in anti-competitive behavior. The filing primarily focuses on how Google makes it more difficult to sideload applications than installing apps from the Play Store, but there are a few suprising claims, including how Google supposedly blocked OnePlus from distributing the Epic Games app on its phones.
Fortnite uses a launcher application called 'Epic Games' to keep the game updated, when Fortnite is installed from the Galaxy Store or Epic's own website. Epic Games alleges in the lawsuit that it reached an agreement with OnePlus to preinstall the app on new devices, but the deal was struck down by Google:
Epic recently reached an agreement with OnePlus, an OEM, to allow users of OnePlus mobile devices to seamlessly install Fortnite and other Epic games by touching an Epic Games app on their devices—without encountering any obstacles imposed by the Android OS. In conjunction with this agreement, Epic designed a version of Fortnite for certain OnePlus devices that delivers a state-of-the-art framerate (the frequency at which consecutive images appear on the device’s screen), providing an even better gameplay experience for Fortnite players.
Although the original agreement between Epic and OnePlus contemplated making this installation method available worldwide, Google demanded that OnePlus not implement its agreement with Epic with the limited exception of mobile devices sold in India. OnePlus informed Epic that Google was “particularly concerned that the Epic Games app would have ability to potentially install and update multiple games with a silent install bypassing the Google Play Store”. Further, any waiver of Google’s restriction “would be rejected due to the Epic Games app serving as a potential portfolio of games and game updates”. As a result, OnePlus mobile device users in India can install Epic games seamlessly without using the Google Play Store, while users outside India cannot.
There is other evidence that such a deal was in the works. Mishaal Rahman of XDA Developers pointed out on Twitter that OxygenOS Open Beta 14 for the OnePlus 7 Pro included the Epic Games application in India. While the functionality never made it to stable release, OnePlus and Epic Games still partnered on an advertising campaign for 90Hz Fortnite on the OnePlus 8 series.
There are certainly other examples of phones shipping with the Play Store and at least one alternative app store, like Samsung phones and tablets with the Galaxy Store. Several OEMs sell devices with Facebook Services, which updates various Facebook applications without using the Play Store.
- Lawsuit filing