Google accused of killing potential Android app store competitors

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

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

The pair of companies are considering expanding their lawsuits against Google to allege that Big G paid developers who had the resources and ability to create competing app stores not to create those app stores. This initiative was known as Project Hug, which is nerve-wracking to say the least.

A motion filed last week claims that Project Hug saw Google “eliminate the excitement and competitive threat of game developers to distribute outside of Play”. Epic and Match claim that Google has entered into agreements with developers that allegedly “deprive developers of any incentive to launch their own store.” The motion was filed following the testimony of an unnamed individual who, the two companies say, “crystallized the nature and scope of these agreements.”

However, Google told Engadget that these claims were inaccurate and was looking forward to set the record straight in court.

“The program on which Epic and Match base their claims simply offers developers incentives to provide benefits and early access to Google Play users when they release new or updated content; it doesn’t prevent developers from creating competing app stores, as they claim,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget.

Earlier this year, Match Group filed a lawsuit against Google to prevent Big G’s payment systems from being used exclusively. While this worked, it also led to Google filing a counterclaim claiming that Match Group was overstepping its boundaries.

It’s also worth noting that last year Google also sued Epic Games for the company’s willful violation of the Google Play Store developer agreement. This also brought Epic Games into hot water with Apple, ultimately resulting in both companies losing in some capacity in court.

The dominance of Google and its Play Store has angered many regulators, including South African lawmakers. The Competition Commission’s digital market investigation recently identified Google, Takealot and others as dominant forces in the market.

“The research identified leading platforms in each category that get the most consumer traffic, on which business users are relatively dependent and which are or are likely to be entrenched,” the committee said.