Google paid Activision-Blizzard $360 million to use its app store, Epic Games says

Google gave “Call of Duty” parent Activision-Blizzard a whopping $360 million in incentives in 2020 to launch its video game on the “Play” app store, according to lawyers in Google’s antitrust lawsuit. Epic Games targeting Google’s Android app market empire.

Lawyers for “Fortnite” maker Epic Games argue that Google relied on payments to game and app developers, known internally as “Project Hug,” as part of an effort to “bribe and block” potential competitors from launch their own app stores or otherwise challenge their monopoly.

The Epic Games trial is the second major US antitrust trial currently facing Google, which is also locked in a heated battle with the US Department of Justice over its alleged monopoly over the online search market.

Additionally, Google is under federal scrutiny regarding its digital advertising practices and its “Maps” business.

Epic lawyer Lauren Moskowitz claimed on Tuesday that payments to Activision-Blizzard and other developers were part of Google’s strategy to reduce “noise” about its policy of taking a 30% cut of revenue from purchases. within the application. Bloomberg reported.

Google is in the middle of two high-profile antitrust lawsuits.
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Google has denied wrongdoing and claims payments to developers were fair compensation in a competitive app market where rivals such as Samsung and Apple.

The company also noted that developers who received payments were not prevented from creating their own app stores.

An unredacted version of Epic Games’ complaint against Google last year revealed that the Big Tech giant has secured at least 24 deals with major app developers.

Aside from the Activision-Blizzard payment, Google reportedly agreed to pay $30 million in 2020 to Riot Games, the creator of the popular “League of Legends” video game franchise.

A 10-person jury was shown a series of emails from 2019 in which a Google employee told Lawrence Koh, Google Play’s former head of game business development, that Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick , was upset about the 30% income cut.

“Fortnite” maker Epic Games is challenging Google over its App Store practices.
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The jury also heard internal projections that purportedly showed Google Play could take a $2.5 billion hit to its margins between 2019 and 2022 if it lost the share of key developers.

Koh rejected Epic’s argument during cross-examination by Google, stating that it had “never” bribed a developer to prevent it from launching its own app store.

The former Google executive said the payments were intended to ensure that companies released their games on Play with the same quality standards as in other markets.

Activision-Blizzard reportedly received $360 million from Google.
AFP via Getty Images

Activision-Blizzard rejected Epic’s claims in court.

“As we said in 2022, Google never asked us, pressured us, or made us agree not to compete with Google Play,” an Activision spokesperson told Bloomberg.

The Google v. Epic lasts approximately four weeks.

A similar lawsuit filed by Epic against Apple ended in a split verdict that largely favored Apple, although both companies are appealing to the Supreme Court to intervene.

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