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Google Under Fire for $360M Incentives to Activision-Blizzard Amid Epic Games’ Suit

 |  November 8, 2023

Google is facing scrutiny for allegedly offering a jaw-dropping $360 million in incentives to gaming powerhouse Activision-Blizzard in 2020. This revelation comes to light during the ongoing antitrust lawsuit brought forth by Epic Games against the tech giant, which revolves around Google’s Android app marketplace, the “Play” store.

Epic Games, the creators of the immensely popular game “Fortnite,” has accused Google of engaging in anticompetitive practices through its “Project Hug” initiative, which involved hefty payouts to game and app developers, reported the New York Post.

Epic Games asserts that Google’s motive behind these payments was to “bribe and block” potential competitors from launching their own app stores or challenging Google’s monopoly within the Android ecosystem.

This legal clash marks the second major antitrust trial that Google currently faces in the United States. In addition to the Epic Games lawsuit, Google is embroiled in a fierce battle with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations of a monopoly in the online search market. Furthermore, federal authorities are examining Google’s digital advertising practices and its “Maps” business, adding to the tech giant’s legal woes.

Read more: UK Regulator Throws Lifeline To Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Deal

Epic Games’ attorney, Lauren Moskowitz, made a compelling argument during the trial, suggesting that the payments made to Activision-Blizzard and other developers were part of Google’s strategy to suppress opposition and create a semblance of harmony over its contentious 30% revenue cut from in-app purchases. Google, however, maintains its innocence, asserting that these payments were fair compensation in a competitive app market, citing industry rivals like Samsung and Apple as examples.

Google has also defended itself by pointing out that the developers who received these payments were not prevented from establishing their own app stores, quashing the idea of any anticompetitive behavior. This clarification comes amidst increasing scrutiny from the media and legal authorities, with Google’s practices under the microscope.

The unredacted version of Epic Games’ complaint against Google last year unveiled the startling fact that the tech giant had entered into at least 24 deals with major app developers, further fueling the antitrust allegations.

Source: NY Post