Activision Blizzard denied Epic’s claims that Google paid them $360 million to avoid developing a rival app store.
The information originated as a result of documents submitted in Epic’s lawsuit against Google. According to the documents, Google would share its monopoly earnings with corporate partners to win their consent to fence out competitors, so assuring that the Play Store would continue to be the only choice for developers of new Android applications. It also claims that Google paid Activision $360 million to avoid developing its own app store.
Activision Blizzard made the announcement of the partnership in January 2020, not long after informing Google of its intentions to launch its own App store. Epic claims that Google was aware that these payoffs would lessen competition and drive up consumer costs.
In 2019, Google predicted that if the concept of competing for digital stores on Google devices gained traction, it might suffer financial losses in the billions. As part of “Project Hug,” the corporation authorized the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars to incentivize renowned creators to continue releasing their games on the Play Store.
Activision denied Google’s $360 million payment allegation
According to Epic’s lawsuit, some of these contracts “were designed to, and did, prevent developers from opening alternative app shops, which is a per se violation of the antitrust laws.” Other agreements had the illegal intention of preventing developers from making Android applications and other original content available outside of Google Play, and they really did.
However, Epic’s claim of Google paying $360 million has been strongly denied by Activision Corporate Affairs EVP and COO Lulu Cheng Meservey, who said that Activision had previously provided evidence and documentation to the contrary. She added “Google never asked us, forced us, or made us promise to not compete with them.”
The Google Play Store is the only market leader, with a sizable active user base. Since the company already enjoys a monopoly in the industry and it will be difficult for any rival to take them over, the accusations actually seem to be false. Google may, however, have rewarded publishers, and they may wish to be the only place where all game creators release their games in order to avoid losing any.