According to updated court documents, Google considered buying Epic Games
Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple in August 2020, alleging "monopolistic practices" on the App Store. It followed up with a similar action against Google later that day. Despite differences in the stores and what they allow, the complaints are essentially identical: By requiring app makers to process in-app purchases through their internal payment systems—claiming a 30% cut along the way — Google and Apple are effectively maintaining monopolies and suppressing competition.
A victory for Epic would almost certainly result in major changes to the App Store and Google Play, which would cost Apple and Google a lot of money. Naturally, neither company wants that, and according to an updated filing based on newly unredacted information, Google considered buying all or part of Epic to eliminate the "threat" of competition.
"Not content with the contractual and technical barriers it has carefully constructed to eliminate competition, Google uses its size, influence, power, and money to induce third parties into anticompetitive agreements that further entrench its monopolies," The Verge, says.
(The original filing, with redactions intact, can be seen here.)
It's not known when exactly all of this happened, and apparently even Epic wasn't aware of it. "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," CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter. "Whether this would have been a negotiation to buy Epic or some sort of hostile takeover attempt is unclear."
The filing also claims that "senior Google Play managers" made some overtures to Epic about establishing a "special deal" for Fortnite, purportedly using the "frankly abysmal" and "awful experience" of directly downloading and installing games onto Android devices.
Ultimately, Epic rejected Google's offer of a deal, opting instead to offer the Android version of Fortnite through its own website and a distribution deal with Samsung.