O Google was once again surprised by the government of South Korea because Play Storethe app store for Android. The Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fined the Mountain View company ₩42.1 billion, approximately R$161 million (quote as of 04/11/2023) for preventing developers from launching their games on ONE Storean alternative store and its main competitor in the country for distributing mobile apps.
Google Play Store on Android (Credit: Ronaldo Gogoni/Meio Bit) The fine was applied thanks to an investigation, which concluded that Google required local developers, specifically mobile games, to launch their new productions exclusively on the Play Store, and not make the installers (APK files) available externally, a practice considered common there. The requirement would have been kept in force between June 2016 and April 2018, a timing that coincided with the launch (06/01/2016) of the ONE Store, a mobile store for applications and mainly games for Android, distributed separately as a separate app. It is not very different from similar applications, such as QooApp and APKPure, known in the West as stores that allow you to install apps and games from other regions. The ONE Store, however, was born to compete directly with the Google Play Store AND the Apple App Store. It is a joint venture between Naver Corporation, a conglomerate that controls half of the Japanese Line (yes, the messaging app), and the three largest operators in Worst Korea, the state-owned KT Corporation, and the private SK Telecom and LG U+. The ONE Store offers a series of advantages to the Android consumer, such as the ease of using payment methods from the operators they already contract to purchase apps, games and make in-app purchases, and is also known for being much more permissive in the face of privacy restrictions. content from Apple and Google. In South Korea, it is common for developers to launch two versions of the same game, the “official” one, for the Play Store and iPhone, which takes it easy with monetization and more well-behaved content, and the ONE Store version, without any filter and often, with content bordering on 18+. Two popular gacha games in South Korea, Blue Archive and Fate/Grand Order, recently classified as adult games by the local government, both have different versions, with the ONE Store version being the original title, with all the “almost pr0n” released .
The ONE Store is one of the strongest competitors to the Play Store (Credit: Reproduction/Naver Corp./KT Corp./SK Group/LG) Note that in many cases, it is possible to simply download the APK of each title directly, but the alternative store centralizes distribution, facilitating the process of subsequent updates for lay users. At the time the ONE Store went live, Android held 50% of the market share in South Korea, compared to 30% for the iPhone. The venture by Naver and the operators aimed to establish a solid competitor and a common hub for the consumption of mobile software apart from the Play Store and App Store, reaching a hypothetical 40% of the representation in consumption of apps and games on Android in up to 3 years . That is, of course, if Google hadn't played dirty. Under the imposed rules, developers exchanged the freedom to publish their games in alternative stores, for greater projection of games on the main pages of the Play Store. The search giant also offered its vast resources to the studios, promising to invest in further plans to expand to more markets, allowing such games to launch new servers in more regions, such as Japan, China, Taiwan, and Western countries. The results were obvious. Between 2016 and 2018, Google's dominance in app and game downloads on Android jumped from between 80% and 85% in 2016, to between 90% and 95% in 2018; ONE Store, even in an unfavorable scenario, managed to secure between 15% and 20% in the first year, but after that, its share plummeted to between 5% and 10%. According to the KFTC, which reviewed documents attesting to Google's harmful market practices, the attitude also harmed local studios, such as NCSoft (Lineage II M), Nexon (Blue Archive) and Netmarble (The Seven Deadly Sins), as well as other developers and smaller distributors. In a statement, Google said that it “cooperated diligently” with the KFTC investigation, ongoing since 2018, but that, in its view, the giant “did not break the law”, and therefore, it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision. The company is now studying how to respond, leaving the possibility of appealing to avoid paying the fine up in the air. Source: Reuters