Epic Lawsuit Claims Google Paid $360 Million to Activision Blizzard to Stop Play Store Rival

Epic Lawsuit Claims Google Paid $360 Million to Activision Blizzard to Stop Play Store Rival

Google paid Activision Blizzard approximately $360 million to prevent the struggling editor to compete directly with the Play Store. The deal was one of at least 24 agreements signed by the search giant as part of its Project Hug initiative, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

The financial details of Project Hug – later known as the Apps and Games Velocity program – are at the center of the ongoing antitrust lawsuit between Epic Games and Google. In 2021, the studio alleged that Google had spent millions of dollars on incentives to keep big app developers on the Play Store. This week, a new, unredacted version of Epic’s complaint was made public, providing previously unknown details about the scope of the Apps and Games Velocity program.

According to court documents, Google has also signed deals with Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Riot Games. In the case of Riot, Google paid around $30 million to “shut down” the League of Legends studio to move forward with its own “internal ‘app store’ efforts,” Epic alleges. Riot Games did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment.

The lawsuit alleges Google knew signing with Activision would cause the publisher to “abandon plans to launch a competing app store,” a claim Activision disputes. “Google has never asked, pressured or made us agree not to compete with Google Play,” an Activision spokesperson said. Reuters. “Epic’s allegations are absurd.”

Google has accused Epic of “misinterpreting” the intent of the Apps and Games Velocity program. “Programs like Project Hug incentivize developers to offer benefits and early access to Google Play users when they release new or updated content; this does not prevent developers from creating competing app stores, as Epic falsely claims,” ​​a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “In fact, the program is proof that Google Play competes fairly against many rivals for developers, who have a number of choices for distributing their apps and digital content.”

Updated 1:03 p.m. ET: Added comment from Google.

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