Do you ever wonder why there aren’t more Google Play Store competitors sprouting up over the past few years? Well, wonder no more! Google has allegedly paid 24 big app developers to avoid doing exactly this, and they consist of some of the largest companies in the gaming space.
As per Reuters, Activision Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, more) was paid $360 million over a three year period and Riot Games (League of Legends, Valorant) was paid $30 million over the course of one year to keep their hands out of the app store pie. All of this came to light in a recently unredacted copy of the 2020 Epic Games (Fortnite) lawsuit against Google for anticompetitive practices.
However, Blizzard and Riot weren’t the only ones in the court filing though mentioned by Reuters! Nintendo, Ubisoft, Calm (the meditation app for some reason), and an education company called Age of Learning were all approached by Google and offered loads of cash to not become the new kid on the block.
As you would expect, both Google and others like Activision are denying any conversations about shutting down the opening of a new app store even took place, and Riot has not yet commented on the matter. Despite this, the entire thing had an internal code name – “Project Hug” – and was meant to help everyone get along with money being the warm hug between them, I guess.
Epic’s lawsuit alleges that Google knew signing with Activision “effectively ensured that (Activision) would abandon its plans to launch a competing app store.” The agreement increases prices and lowers quality of service, the lawsuit added.Reuters
Why does all of this matter? Well, if any one of these humongous game developers or publishers spun up an alternative to the Google Play Store and something like Fortnite was no longer available directly through Google’s store front, two things would happen. First, the search giant would get less traffic and exposure. Second, it would miss out on its large cut of revenue for hosting those apps and games – neither of which it wants. With all of this talk of Epic Games with Fortnite a few years back and now “Project Hug”, I can only imagine such a scenario will occur in a matter of time. It’s more of a question of “when” and less of “if”.