Epic Games isn’t just fighting the app stores over the right to process its own in-app payments in its popular game Fortnite, it’s also taken up its antitrust legal battle with the tech giants via Bandcamp, the internet music company Epic acquired in March. The following month, Epic filed an injunction asking for the right to allow Bandcamp to continue operating as usual instead of being forced to adopt Google’s own payments system as is now required via a policy change, or risk expulsion from the Google Play Store. On Friday, Bandcamp prevailed on this front, earning the ability to continue to legally operate its existing payment system on Android devices until Epic’s case with Google is resolved, per a new court agreement.
This means Bandcamp’s fans will be able to continue to support their favorite artists on Android devices by buying music and merchandise, as they have since 2015, and artists will receive the same percentage of sales, as usual, Bandcamp said. In addition, Google will not be able to de-list the Bandcamp app from the Google Play Store, nor delay or refuse to distribute its app updates as part of the new agreement.
Bandcamp also said it will now place 10% of the revenue generated by the digital sales on Android devices in escrow until Epic’s lawsuit with Google is decided. At that point, the court will determine whether it or Google will receive those funds based on whether it rules Google’s payments system is anticompetitive.
The 10% figure itself — which represents the commissions Bandcamp would otherwise have to pay Google — is a bit unusual. Google’s typical commissions on in-app purchases range from 15% to 30% for most Google Play developers. But Google offered Bandcamp a reduced fee of 10% in exchange for other concessions, the original court filing revealed. Despite the special offer, Bandcamp argued this was still too much, as it would “force Epic to change Bandcamp’s current business model or else operate the Bandcamp business at a long-term loss,” the filing said.
In a statement published last month to the Bandcamp blog, Bandcamp CEO and co-founder Ethan Diamond further explained that the company would have to “either pass Google’s fees on to consumers (making Android a less attractive platform for music fans), pass fees on to artists (which we would never do), permanently run our Android business at a loss, or turn off digital sales in the Android app,” in order to comply with Google’s new policy changes around in-app purchases.
He also pointed out that Bandcamp had used its own payments system for years, consistent with Google’s prior guidance that exempted digital music from incurring a revenue share.
Bandcamp isn’t the only company to come to some such agreement with Google over in-app purchases amid antitrust lawsuits.
Also on Friday, dating giant Match Group forged a similar compromise with Google, resulting in Match withdrawing its temporary restraining order against Google. Per the terms of its deal, Google agreed to not reject or delete Match Group apps from the Play Store for providing alternative payment options and Match said would place up to $40 million in an escrow account in lieu of paying its commissions to Google for the in-app payments taking place outside Google Play’s payment system.