Court documents from the ongoing Google vs. Epic Games trial disclose a fascinating detail as the American tech giant expressed interest and wanted to acquire the Fortnite maker Epic Games back in 2018, with Google being open to collaborating with shareholder Tencent to finalize a buyout. This is an interesting revelation considering the current intense legal battle between the two entities.
Google’s Project Elektra strategy outlines Fortnite as a key business driver
Now, let us look into the heart of the matter. The documents produced in court for the ongoing legal battle revealed Google’s interest in acquiring Epic Games and gaining control of Fortnite, dating back to 2018. Google had initially planned to secure a 20% stake in Epic Games for $2 billion through its Project Elektra strategy, aiming to position Fortnite as a central element of the Android operating system.
Phil Harrison, at the time the Vice President and General Manager of Google, outlined Google’s potential investment in Epic Games. Identifying Fortnite as a key business driver, the plan aimed to leverage Fortnite’s impact across YouTube, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and the gaming service Google Yeti.
An intriguing aspect of this revelation is that Google was open to collaborating with the gaming giant Tencent to facilitate the deal. From what we learn from the internal mail reply from Dave Sobota, the former Google executive, this approach from Phil involved either acquiring shares of Epic Games from Tencent to get more control over Epic or jointly purchasing the entire company.
However, there was also a mention that Google might want another big investor as a counterweight to Tencent as the latter might not want to sell shares or might try to stop another investor. Well, as we know, that deal didn’t go through and as of today, Tencent does hold a 40% stake in Epic with Sony sharing a marginal 4.9%.
Fortnite eventually made its way to the Google Play Store only to be removed later
Despite Epic Games rejecting Google’s proposal to bring Fortnite to the Play Store in 2018, the game eventually made its way to the platform in 2020, only to be later removed due to efforts to avoid paying associated fees which Epic always criticized, which we all know what happened next, which is also the reason the trial is happening in the first place.
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