Google toyed with the idea of buying Fortnite developer Epic Games as the two companies butted heads over platform fees and payment methods.
As spotted by The Verge, newly unsealed (and freshly redacted) court filings submitted by Epic as part of its ongoing antitrust lawsuit against Google indicate the tech giant considered purchasing Epic to effectively silence the company.
"Google has gone so far as to share its monopoly profits with business partners to secure their agreement to fence out competition, has developed a series of internal projects to address the 'contagion' it perceived from efforts by Epic and others to offer consumers and developers competitive alternatives, and even contemplated buying some or all of Epic to squelch this threat," reads the document.
Epic suggests Google began flirting with the idea of an acquisition after becoming increasingly frustrated with its decision to launch Fortnite on Android outside of the Google Play marketplace. It also sounds like the search engine maker grew tired of being publicly lambasted by Epic for implementing what it called "disproportionate" platform fees.
Although Epic eventually brought Fortnite to the Google Play store in 2020, the developer continued to call out Google for putting "software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage."
Epic didn't make it clear when Google began mulling over the potential acquisition, and recent comments from Epic chief exec Tim Sweeney suggest the idea never really got off the ground.
"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," he tweeted in response to The Verge's report. "Whether this would have been a negotiation to buy Epic or some sort of hostile takeover attempt is unclear."
Epic filed its lawsuit against Google in August 2020, mere hours after taking aim at Apple with a similar lawsuit to end what it called 'unfair and anti-competitive' platform fees and payment restrictions. Both legal battles are ongoing, with the latter eventually making it to trial earlier this year.