South Korea’s anti-monopoly regulator has fined Google close to $32 million (42.1 billion Korean won) for blocking the release of mobile video games on a competitor’s platform.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday that Google’s move to force video game makers to exclusively release their titles on Google Play, in exchange for providing in-app exposure between June 2016 and April 2018, bolstered its market dominance, and hurt the local app market One Store’s revenue and value as a platform.
Google, which is owned by American multinational tech conglomerate Alphabet, said it would review the final decision by the KFTC to evaluate its next course of action.
“Google makes substantial investments in the success of developers, and we respectfully disagree with the KFTC’s conclusions”, a spokesperson said.
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The KFTC said the move against the US technology giant is part of efforts by the government to ensure fair markets.
Game makers affected by Google’s action include Netmarble, Nexon, and NCSOFT, as well as other smaller companies, the antitrust regulator added.
In 2021, Google was fined more than 200 billion won by the KFTC for blocking customised versions of its Android operating system.
Earlier this month, top startups in India called on the country’s competition watchdog to launch an inquiry into Google for allegedly bypassing an antitrust directive by charging a high service fee for in-app payments, a filing showed.
The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) filing marked the latest tussle between Google and Indian startups, which have repeatedly criticized the US company for imposing unfair business restrictions that hurt smaller players.
“Google’s policy change of charging service fee even on transactions processed by third-party payment processors … has detrimental consequences for users and app developers,” the 15-page confidential complaint by ADIF in March said.
Google, which declined to comment, has previously said the service fee supports investments in the Google Play app store and the Android mobile operating system, ensuring it distributes it for free and covers developer tools and analytic services.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
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