Consumer rights infringement
Video game developer Epic Games filed a complaint in the Federal Court of Australia on Wednesday against a branch of technology giant Google, accusing it of violating local consumer protection law. It said so in a statement posted on the developer's website.
Epic Games claims that Google Australia is abusing its control over the Android operating system, thereby violating consumer rights and undermining the basis of competition. "Google mandates that all apps offered through the Google Play Store use Google's payment system, even though it allows for alternative payment methods on its platform", the statement reads.
According to the developer, Google is deliberately making it "exceptionally difficult" for users to install apps outside of the platform ecosystem, as confirmed by a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published in September last year. As the report pointed out, at least 90% of Android apps in Australia were downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said: "Google creates the illusion of openness by claiming to have alternative shops on its platform or by allowing direct downloads of third-party apps. Such instances are so rare that they are hardly indicative of Google's lack of monopoly in the Android system".
In its application to the Federal Court of Australia, Epic Games is asking for fair competition rules to be respected and for consumers to be given back their right to choose how they pay for content. "Consumers have the right to install apps from the sources of their choice and developers have the right to compete fairly in the marketplace. If developers offer users apps from different sources and with different payment options, then Google will be forced to compete with them on an equal footing. Epic Games is not seeking damages, but simply seeks fair competition that benefits consumers and developers alike", the company notes.