Epic claims in a massive lawsuit that Google paid Activision Blizzard $360 million to prevent a competing Play Store from launching.
Google reportedly paid Activision Blizzard $360 million to prevent the struggling publisher from competing directly with the Play Store. According to court records seen by Reuters, the agreement was one of at least 24 inked by Google as part of its Project Hug campaign.
The financial specifics of Project Hug – subsequently renamed the Apps and Games Velocity Program – are at the heart of Epic Games and Google’s ongoing antitrust dispute. The studio claimed in 2021 that Google paid millions of dollars in incentives to keep major app developers on the Play Store. A freshly unredacted version of Epic’s lawsuit was made public this week, revealing previously undisclosed data regarding the extent of the Apps and Games Velocity Program.
According to court records, Google also made arrangements with Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Riot Games. In the instance of Riot, Epic claims that Google paid over $30 million to “halt” the League of Legends studio from pursuing its own “in-house ‘app store’ activities.
According to the complaint, Google understood that contracting with Activision would cause the publisher to “abandon its aspirations to build a competitive app store.” “Activision denies this assertion. “Google never begged, pushed, or forced us to agree not to compete with Google Play,” a spokeswoman for Activision told Reuters. “Epic’s claims are ridiculous.”
Google accused Epic of “mischaracterizing” the Apps and Games Velocity Program’s objective. “Programs like Project Hug offer incentives for developers to provide perks and early access to Google Play consumers when they release new or updated content; it does not restrict developers from starting rival app stores,” a Google spokesman said. “Indeed, the initiative demonstrates that Google Play competes fairly with a plethora of competitors for developers, who have a variety of options for distributing their applications and digital content.”