Activision Blizzard and Riot Games have told Google they may launch their own mobile app stores, according to new documents filed in Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against the search giant. The details emerged as part of allegations of major deals signed with the two companies. Google has reportedly agreed to pay Activision about $360 million over three years and Riot about $30 million for a one-year deal.

In a document, Google chief Karen Aviram Beatty reports a conversation with Activision Blizzard’s current CFO Armin Zerza a month before the two companies signed a major deal. “If this deal goes through, [Zerza] claims that they will launch their own mobile distribution platform (partnership with another “big mobile company” – think Epic)Double up with Amazon / Twitch (or MSFT) for Cloud / eSports [sic]and move away from Stadia,” Beatty wrote (emphasis mine). Although Zerza just negotiated some tough deals, Activision has yet to launch its own app store on mobile, so it seems the company was happy with the outcome of the deal.

Another document is the testimony of an unnamed witness who was involved in or appeared to be involved in Google’s ‘Project Hug’ program designed to encourage and support Play Store developers. In collapse, a witness says Riot Games told Google it was considering launching a rival Android app store. Later, the witness says, “Riot and Activision Blizzard King were the ones who had the most direct contact with us” considering opening their own app store.

The Project Hug contracts first surfaced in August 2021 as part of an unredacted Epic complaint. But Epic, a A new amended complaint was filed Thursdayclaims that the Project Hug deals are designed to “prevent a developer from opening a competing store or otherwise distributing its apps outside of the Google Play Store.”

Epic launched first Fortnite Outside of Google Play in 2018, which also allowed it to bypass Google’s payments, and Epic already claimed that Project Hug was designed to encourage developers to stick with Play instead of creating their own store. (Epic finally brought Fortnite to the Play Store in 2020, but was removed a few months later.) But according to new documents, Activision and Riot were considering going out on their own.

in his statements to The Verge, Google and Activision retracted Epic’s claims. Google said programs like Project Hug didn’t stop developers from creating their own app stores, while Activision said Google didn’t persuade them not to compete with Google Play.

“Epic Mischaracterizes Business Conversations”

“Epic mischaracterizes business conversations,” Google spokesman Michael Appel said. “Programs Like Project Hug, it provides Google Play users with benefits and early access incentives when developers release new or updated content; It doesn’t prevent developers from creating competing app stores, as Epic falsely claims. In fact, the app is proof that Google Play competes fairly with multiple competitors for developers with a range of options to distribute their apps and digital content.”

“Activision testified in court that Google and Activision never agreed that Activision would not open its own app store,” said Activision spokesman Joe Christinat. “Google has never asked us, pressured us, or persuaded us not to compete with Google Play. We have submitted documents and affidavits to prove this. “Epica’s claims are nonsense.”

Riot did not respond to a request for comment.

One of Epic’s filings lists more than 20 companies that Google has signed up to Project Hug (now technically the “Game Accelerator Program”) starting in July 2022. Activision and Riot are on the list, as are major gaming companies like EA. Niantic, Nintendo, Tencent and Ubisoft.

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