South Korea’s antitrust regulation agency has fined Google 42.1 billion won (which equals around $31.88 million USD) for blocking the release of mobile games on competing platforms.
Specifically, the tech giant is being fined punitively by KFTC for blocking mobile games from Korea’s One Store, as reported by Tech Crunch and others. One Store is one of the country’s leading app stores and a competitor of Google Play. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission says that from June 2016 through April 2018, Google required exclusivity (what some would call ‘blocking rights’) from game publishers in exchange for in-app exposure and other benefits.
The KFTC also notes that Google wrested away around 5-0% of the local market share from One Store during that period.
In an email statement a Google spokesperson responded,
We have cooperated diligently with the KFTC’s investigation and deliberation process for the past five years and believe that there has been no violation of the law. Google makes substantial investments in the success of developers, and we respectfully disagree with the KFTC’s conclusions. We will carefully review the final written decision once it’s shared with us to evaluate the next course of action.
The $32 million fine pales in comparison to that the KFTC levied against Google in 2021 for “abusing its market dominance,” which weighed in at a hefty $177 million USD.