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Google accused of killing potential Android app store competitors

  • Match Group and Epic Games filed a motion to expand their lawsuits against Google.
  • Project Hug allegedly paid developers to not launch competing app stores.
  • Google has denied these claims as inaccurate.

Another day, another big tech bigwig is being sued by, erm, other big tech bigwigs. Today the high-profile names are Match Group (the company behind the likes of Match.com and Tinder) and Epic Games (the company behind Fortnite).

The pair of firms are looking at expanding their lawsuits against Google to allege that Big G paid developers who had the means and ability to create competing app stores to not create those app stores. This initiative was known as Project Hug which is unnerving, to say the least.

A motion filed last week alleges that Project Hug saw Google “eliminate game developers’ agitation and competitive threat to distribute outside of Play.” Epic and Match claim that Google entered into agreements with developers which allegedly “deprived developers of any incentive to launch their own store.” The motion was filed following the testimony of an unnamed individual which the pair of firms say “crystalized the nature and scope of these agreements.”

However, Google told Engadget that these claims were inaccurate and it looked forward to setting the record straight in court.

“The program on which Epic and Match base their claims simply provides incentives for developers to give benefits and early access to Google Play users when they release new or updated content; it does not prevent developers from creating competing app stores, as they allege,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget.

Earlier this year Match Group filed a lawsuit against Google to avoid using Big G’s payment systems exclusively. While this worked, it also led to Google filing a countersuit alleging that Match Group was overstepping its boundaries.

It’s also worth mentioning that Google also countersued Epic Games last year over the firm’s wilful breach of the Google Play Store’s developer agreement. This also landed Epic Games in hot water with Apple which eventually lead to both firms losing in some capacity in court.

The dominance of Google and its Play Store have drawn the ire of many regulators, including South African lawmakers. The Competition Commission’s Digital Markets Inquiry recently named Google, Takealot and others as dominant forces in the market.

“The Inquiry has identified leading platforms in each category, which are those that get the most consumer traffic, upon which the business users are relatively dependent, and which are, or are likely to be, entrenched,” the commission said.

 

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