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South Korea fines Google $32M for barring creators from publishing games on competitor platform.

Image: Google

Google was fined 42.1 billion won (~ $32 million) by the South Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) for prohibiting developers from publishing mobile games on One Store, a Korean rival platform.

The KFTC said on Tuesday that Google forced Korean video game developers to release their new games solely via the Play Store from June 2016 to April 2018. In addition, Google restricted local game producers from One Store in exchange for in-app promotion and worldwide growth help.

South Korea’s three telcos—SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus—and internet behemoth Naver created One Shop in June 2016.

According to KFTC statistics, Google’s local market share in the mobile Android app market rose from 90% to 95% in 2018, up from 80% to 85% in 2016, while One Store’s declined to 5% to 10% from 15% to 20%.

Korea’s antitrust authority said the decision was to prevent the U.S. tech giant from exploiting its dominating position in the app industry.

According to the KTFC news release, Google Play and One Store sell more than 90% of domestic titles. In addition, the KFTC stated Google’s actions hurt game creators, from NCSoft, Netmarble, and Nexon to small and mid-sized producers.

“We have worked extensively with the KFTC’s inquiry and deliberation process over the past five years and feel that there has been no breach of the law,” a Google spokeswoman stated in an email. “Google invests heavily in developer success, and we respectfully disagree with the KFTC’s conclusions. After receiving the final written ruling, we will carefully analyze it to determine our future steps.”

The KFTC penalized Google $177 million in 2021 for exploiting its Android OS market dominance.

Google says it helped Korean mobile game companies launch their games on Play over the previous decade flourish and expand globally.

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