Activision labels Epic’s latest Google lawsuit claims ‘nonsense’ – Epic claimed in a court filing that Activision paid Google $360 million to stop it developing a rival mobile app store.
Activision dismissed Epic Games’ claim that Google had paid $360 million to it in exchange for an agreement not launching a mobile app store similar to Google Play. This allegation was made public in an unredacted lawsuit filed earlier this week by Epic against Google. It also claims that Riot Games, a League of Legends studio, reached a similar agreement.
In August 2020, Apple sued Google for “monopolistic practices” in the App Store. This was for the same reason: Google requires that developers using the Play store’s In-App Billing system process payments. It takes 30% of all purchases through the storefront. Epic wants to have the option to use their own payment processing.
This suit has been going on for some time now and has been overshadowed somewhat by Epic’s beef against Apple. Epic has made sweeping pronouncements, funny graphics and even a complete cinematic parody to Apple’s 1984 ad. One interesting thing happened on the Google side: Epic claimed that Google had made numerous “anti competitive agreements” with other developers, who were looking at either the development or release of their own mobile apps.
Epic claims that some of these agreements were meant to prevent developers from creating competing app stores. This is an infringement of antitrust laws. “Other agreements were meant to, and did, unlawfully prevent developers from making Android applications and other unique content accessible outside of Google Play.”
Activision allegedly claimed that it was looking at its own mobile distribution platform. It believed this would have “better economies than Google Play,” but abandoned the idea after signing a “Project Hug” deal with Google. Activision was allegedly given $360 million by Google over three years. Activision then “abandoned” its plans to launch an Android app store. According to Epic’s lawsuit, Riot Games had been considering a similar path for League of Legends but decided to make an “eight-figure deal” with Google in return for abandoning its plan.
According to the filing, Google entered into Project Hug deals or “App and Games Velocity Program”, deals with a number of other games companies including Bandai Namco and Electronic Arts, NCSoft and NetEase. However, there are no allegations that the deals were made in order to stop the launch of standalone apps stores or other game releases.
Epic made initial allegations about Project Hug back in August 2021. However, Epic did not disclose any dollar amounts or names of companies that were involved. Google responded by acknowledging the existence of these programs but denying that they were intended to shut down competition.
A representative told The Verge that Google Play competes against other app stores for Android devices, as well as with rival operating systems, in order to attract developer attention and business. We’ve had programs for years that provide support to best-in-class app developers, with increased resources and investments to help them reach greater customers through Google Play. These programs benefit developers greatly and are a sign that there is healthy competition between app stores and operating systems.
Activision denied all allegations that it had made to stop plans for its mobile store closing down in response to the new filing.
In a statement sent by Activision to PC Gamer, a representative of Activision stated that “Epic’s claims are nonsense.” “We can confirm that Google has never pressured or asked us to agree to not compete with Google Play. We have already submitted documentation and testimony to support this.”