South Korea’s antitrust authority fined Google 42.1 billion won (approximately $32 million) for using its dominant position in the mobile app market to block game developers from launching new products on rival platforms in South Korea, crowding out competitors and violating fair competition regulations.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) accused Google of trying to block South Korea’s rival app store One Store between June 2016 and April 2018, by requiring NCSoft, Netmarble, and other small Korean game developers, as well as several Chinese game companies, to launch new games exclusively on Google Play Store in exchange for Google promoting these games and providing further overseas support.
KFTC said that Google’s promotion of a certain game on its homepage is crucial for Korean game developers to increase their overseas visibility. Google’s move to boost its market dominance hindered One Store’s ability to attract new games and hurt One Store’s revenue and platform value. At the same time, Google boosted its own revenue by 1.8 trillion won.
Google, which holds 75% of mobile app market in South Korea, denied offering incentives to game developers to encourage them to launch games exclusively on Google Play.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson said that Google did not violate the law and emphasized that Google Play is an open platform where developers can freely decide how to launch their games. Google has made significant investments to help developers succeed, and Google respects but cannot agree with KFTC’s decision. Google said it will review KFTC’s final decision to evaluate its next move.
Yu Seong Wook, head of KFTC’s Antitrust Bureau, said that Google’s behavior has deviated from normal marketing activities, and Google’s intention is to crowd out One Store, which is considered as a strong rival, from the market.
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