Google’s Project Hug paid huge sums to keep game developers in the Play Store, Epic made claims

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Google quietly paid game developers hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to keep their games on the Play Store, a recently unresolved complaint Epic Games competition law against Google claim. The program was known as the “Project Hug” or later the “Apps and Games Velocity Program.”

In 2018, when Fortnite Epic Games, first released for Android, took over an unusual step in liberalization alone Outside the Google Play Store. Instead, players had to download the installer directly from Epic’s website, causing the company to bypass Google’s 30 percent fee — at the expense of a less user-friendly installation process. Epic Games eventually gave up and released Fortnite Play on sale in April 2020 (at least until then It has been removed again by Google after Epic added a feature that allows players to bypass Google payment when making in-app purchases and initiate current lawsuits.)

But Epic’s complaint claims that Google was so concerned about the idea of ​​other developers FortniteAs a leading factor – and leaving it out of the lucrative business – it launched the Project Hug program to ensure that developers stick to the Play Store.

According to the complaint, the 2019 report compiled by Google Play’s finance team raised concerns that Epic could enter into an agreement with OEMs like Samsung to set up its competing store and win developers by promising lower revenue-sharing (a tactic that Epic uses with the PC) store-based version and help to pave the way for Android users to turn to other alternative stores. In total, the team estimates that Android’s Epic Games Store could lead to a loss of $ 350 million and $ 1.4 billion for Google by 2022. if other app stores like Amazon or Samsung “get full appeal” alongside Epic, those losses could rise from $ 1.1 billion to $ 6 billion.

Project Hug was designed as part of an effort to limit Epic’s influence, such as “hug developers close and show a love plan” or “a wave plan to give extra love / promotion to top developers and games (including Tencent portfolio companies)”. Android executives explained in internal documents. In practice, this meant, in effect, spending “hundreds of millions of dollars on secret contracts with more than 20 top developers,” which the company had deemed most at risk of being “infected” by Epic.

Google documents state that while many of the targeted developers had inquired about revenue share or were considering their own distribution platforms, Project Hug was largely a success. By the end of 2020, Google had signed agreements with most of its Project Hug targets – most notably Activision Blizzard – to keep them on the Play Store.

In its opinion Limit, Google spokesman Peter Schottenfels commented that “Google Play competes with other Android app stores and competing operating systems for developer attention and business. We’ve had a long time programs who support best-in-class developers with enhanced resources and investments to reach more customers on Google Play. These programs are a sign of healthy competition between operating systems and app stores and benefit developers tremendously. “

Updated August 19, 4:35 PM: Added Google statement.

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