Epic and Google are gearing up for another legal battle. You may remember that Google has one Crack down on in-app billing coming to the Play Store soon. The new rules require all apps selling digital goods to use Google Play billing by March 31, so Google gets a cut of the sales. Any non-compliant app can no longer provide updates since March 31st, but the actual deadline is June 1st when these apps will be removed from the Play Store. Bought Epic Games popular independent music site Bandcamp in March, and it’s already taking Google to court over its latest acquisition. Bandcamp is not following billing rules and as a result will be suspended in June. As part of its antitrust case against Google, Epic submit an application for an injunction to block Bandcamp’s delisting from the Play Store.
Epic has attacked Google and Apple on their app store rules and what Epic says are excessive fees. In March there were many questions about why the creator of Fourteen days and Unreal Engine would buy an independent music site. A commentary line from the founder of Music Business Worldwide Tim Inham seems to have nailed Epic’s strategy. Ingham notes that Epic failed to get Apple to reduce the 30 percent app store cut, in part because alternative model Epic was able to demonstrate the Epic Games Store and its 12 percent fee to the court. was not profitable. Apple’s lawyers argued the unprofitability of Epic’s Games Store justified Apple’s 30 percent fee.
belt storage is a profitable digital content business. Bandcamp has a searchable content store and hosts and delivers the content, charging artists a 10 to 15 percent commission. Ingham predicted that Epic would uphold Bandcamp’s business model as a viable alternative to Apple and Google’s app store fees, and that Epic would use its new acquisition to target app store owners. It looks like we’re seeing the first actions of this plan.
According to Bandcamp, its store is not compatible with Google Play billing
Epic’s court filing states, “Google has a monopoly over Android app distribution and is using its monopoly power to illegally tie its payments product – Google Play Billing – to its app distribution product – Google Play.” example of the damage this billing system will do, arguing that Bandcamp’s business model is largely incompatible with Google Play billing.
Epic raises several issues with Google’s billing system. First, that Bandcamp’s payment system is “tailor-made to maximize efficiency and minimize costs, allowing artists to get paid within 24 to 48 hours of a sale.” Payouts on Google Play take 15 to 45 days, and Bandcamp’s fast system is designed to help independent artists pay monthly bills on time.
Second, Epic says Bandcamp’s ability to give artists 82 percent of earnings would be hurt if Google made a 30 percent cut. Epic also notes that Google offered the company a 10 percent commission sweetheart deal after Epic complained. Google is always offering special discounts on its Play Store fees to large companies. Spotify has another special arrangement that allows it to run its own payment system alongside Google Play. Epic also rejected the 10 percent deal, saying Bandcamp currently has a 7 percent profit margin on its 13 percent cut, so it can’t afford that.
One of the more interesting complaints is that Google Play Billing just isn’t compatible with the type of store Bandcamp runs. The first is that Bandcamp is a mix of digital and physical content. That makes sense for a music company — you can buy a digital download, physical CD or vinyl, and some band merchandise like a t-shirt from a store. Google Play Billing, which was intended for in-app purchases, is not designed for this and does not support physical sales. Bandcamp would have to support two different payment systems and operate two checkout systems. Bandcamp’s second compatibility issue is that it’s an open marketplace with thousands of artists selling merchandise. Google Play supports paying a single developer and doesn’t play the middleman for thousands of sellers.
Speaking on Bandcamp’s blog, CEO Ethan Diamond said, “If Google’s policy changes from the 1st, which we would never do), permanently run our Android business at a loss or disable digital sales in the Android app.” The removal of purchases due of the new billing rules from Google is the option Amazon and Barnes & Noble took earlier this month. Poor Barnes & Noble is also an Android manufacturer and now can no longer sell digital books on it own Hardware!
Epic’s antitrust case against Google is set for April 2023, while non-compliant apps will be booted from the Play Store in a month. We will keep an eye out for further developments.
To update: Google sent a statement:
This is another unsubstantiated claim from Epic, who are now using their newly acquired app Bandcamp to continue their efforts to avoid paying for the value that Google Play offers. We were transparent over Play’s payment policy for more than 18 months and as Epic knows, Bandcamp is entitled to a service fee of only 10% over Plays Media Experience Program– far less than the fees they charge on their own platforms. Despite their claims, Android’s openness means Bandcamp has multiple ways to distribute its app to Android users, including through other app stores, directly to users through their website, or as a consumer-only app like they do on iOS .