Epic alleges Google paid $360 million to maintain Activision from launching its personal app retailer



Activision Blizzard and Riot Video games at one level informed Google they may launch their very own cell app shops, in accordance with new paperwork filed in Epic’s antitrust lawsuit in opposition to the search large. The main points got here to gentle as a part of allegations about main offers signed with the 2 corporations. Google allegedly agreed to pay Activision about $360 million over three years and Riot about $30 million for a one-year deal.

In one doc, Google exec Karen Aviram Beatty is reporting again from a dialog with Activision Blizzard’s now-CFO Armin Zerza one month earlier than the 2 corporations signed the big deal. “If this deal falls by, [Zerza] claims that they’ll launch their very own cell distribution platform (partnering with one other “main cell firm” — presume Epic), double down with Amazon / Twitch (or MSFT) for Cloud / eSports [sic], and draw back from Stadia,” Beatty wrote (emphasis mine). Whereas Zerza might have simply been performing some hardline negotiating, Activision has not but launched its personal app retailer on cell, so it appears the corporate was pleased with how the deal ultimately turned out.

One other doc is a deposition from an unnamed witness that appears to be somebody who’s or was concerned with “Venture Hug,” Google’s program designed to incentivize and help Play Retailer builders. In the deposition, the witness says that Riot Video games informed Google it was contemplating launching a competing Android app retailer. Later, the witness says that “Riot and Activision Blizzard King have been those that have been essentially the most direct with us” about contemplating beginning their very own app shops.

Venture Hug agreements first got here to gentle in August 2021 as a part of an unredacted Epic criticism. However Epic, in a newly amended criticism filed Thursday, alleges Venture Hug offers are designed to “forestall the developer from opening a competing retailer or in any other case distributing its apps outdoors of the Google Play Retailer.”

Epic initially launched Fortnite outdoors of Google Play in 2018, which let it bypass Google’s charges, and Epic has already argued that Venture Hug was designed to entice builders to stay with Play as a substitute of creating their very own shops. (Epic ultimately introduced Fortnite to the Play Retailer in 2020, nevertheless it was eliminated a couple of months later.) However based mostly on the brand new paperwork, it appears Activision and Riot have been pondering of hanging out on their very own.

In statements to The Verge, Google and Activision pushed again on Epic’s allegations. Google mentioned that applications like Venture Hug don’t forestall builders from creating their very own app shops, and Activision mentioned that Google didn’t make them agree to not compete with Google Play.

“Epic is mischaracterizing enterprise conversations”

“Epic is mischaracterizing enterprise conversations,” Google spokesperson Michael Appel mentioned. “Packages like Venture Hug present incentives for builders to provide advantages and early entry to Google Play customers after they launch new or up to date content material; it doesn’t forestall builders from creating competing app shops, as Epic falsely alleges. The truth is, this system is proof that Google Play competes pretty with quite a few rivals for builders, who’ve a lot of selections for distributing their apps and digital content material.”

“Activision testified in courtroom that Google and Activision by no means entered into an settlement that Activision wouldn’t open its personal app retailer,” Activision spokesperson Joe Christinat mentioned. “Google by no means requested us, pressured us, or made us agree to not compete with Google Play. We submitted paperwork and testimony that show this. Epic’s allegations are nonsense.”

Riot didn’t reply to a request for remark.

One among Epic’s displays additionally accommodates a listing of greater than 20 corporations Google has signed Venture Hug (now technically the “Video games Velocity Program”) offers with as of July 2022. Activision and Riot are each listed, as are large gaming corporations like EA, Niantic, Nintendo, Tencent, and Ubisoft.