By forcing developers to use its in-app payment service and discouraging users from installing third-party app stores, Google breached Australian consumer law, Epic alleged. — Reuters SYDNEY: Fortnite maker Epic Games launched legal action against Google in Australia on Wednesday, opening another front in its global fight against the stranglehold of tech titans on app marketplaces. The creator of Fortnite – one of the most popular games in the world – is already locked in battle with Google and Apple in the United States, Europe and Britain, accusing the two of unfair control and revenue practices in their app stores. Mirroring similar action against Apple last November, Epic lodged a suit in the Federal Court of Australia claiming Google is “abusing its control” of the Android mobile operating system. By forcing developers to use its in-app payment service and discouraging users from installing third-party app stores, Google breached Australian consumer law, Epic alleged. “Google gives the illusion of being open by making arguments about the presence of alternative app stores,” Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said in a statement. “In reality, these situations are so rare that they barely make a dent in the monopoly of the Android OS.” A Google Australia spokesman declined to comment Wednesday. Last year, Apple booted Fortnite from its App Store after Epic tweaked it to avoid sharing revenue with the iPhone maker. Unlike Google, Apple does not allow users of its popular devices to download apps from anywhere except the App Store, and developers have to use Apple’s payment system which takes a cut. Apple and Google are also facing growing pushback from other tech giants over their control of apps on their platforms. Facebook and Spotify have claimed Apple is acting in an uncompetitive way by placing rules on outside developers, which it does not apply to itself. The gripes prompted the European Union’s powerful competition authority to open a series of cases against Apple last June, involving both its App Store and its Apple Pay payment service. Australia’s competition watchdog is also conducting a broad review of digital platform services. Apple previously called Spotify and others’ complaints “baseless”, describing them as sour grapes from companies that do not want to play by the same rules as everyone else. – AFP
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