Epic Games sue Google over policy change that could affect Bandcamp

Epic Games is suing Google over changes to its payment system on Android which would affect its new acquisition Bandcamp, reports Resident Advisor. The proposed changes, scheduled to come into effect on June 1st, would require Bandcamp and other Android apps use Google Pay Billing and pay Google a share of revenue from in-app purchases. 

For Bandcamp, which currently makes use of PayPal integration for in-app purchases, this could be disastrous. Speaking on the impact that Google’s policy change would have for the platform, Bandcamp CEO & co-founder Ethan Diamond stressed that Bandcamp’s options were limited. They would either have to “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.” 

At present, Bandcamp only offers in-app purchases via Android, as their business model is incompatible with Apple’s 30 percent fee on in-app purchases which use Apple’s payment system. Bandcamp’s primary objective has always been to support artists first and foremost, with the platform paying 82% of total sales revenue to labels and artists. 

Diamond also suggested that the shift to using Google Pay Billing exclusively would mean artists would have to wait up to two weeks to be paid out, whereas currently Bandcamp pays artists out from sales within 24 to 48 hours. As Bandcamp’s parent company, Epic Games filed a preliminary injunction in San Francisco against Google on April 28th, citing Google’s policy change as a violation of the Unfair Competition Law in the State of California and would cause significant damage to Epic Games as a company. The case will be heard in court on June 2nd. 

In a surprising move, Epic Games acquired Bandcamp earlier this year as part of Epic’s strategic expansion into music and other parts of the entertainment industry. The acquisition proved controversial for the independent music community, who criticised Bandcamp for evolving closer toward streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, and contradicting its culture and ethos. Diamond remained as Bandcamp’s CEO, and the company’s model has remained the same.