Of all things to emerge from the maelstrom in the ongoing court case between Epic and Google, the concept of an Activision Blizzard app store is surely among the most surprising. But indeed, it turns out that Activision Blizzard did look at creating its own app store on Android devices four years ago, together with two key allies.
After its years-long court battle with Apple over Fortnite revenues via the App Store, Epic Games’ subsequent case with Google has kicked off - three years on from initially suing the internet goliath over in-app purchase fees.
This may sound like a retread after the lengthy Apple case, full of turnarounds and delays and retrials, but new information is already being gleaned from the case against Google. The most noteworthy so far, as seen in court by The Verge, is the fact that gaming giant Activision Blizzard was looking to make its own app store in 2019.
A Google Play competitor?
This potential store could have been formed, according to internal emails and documents, by building a store with Epic Games and Supercell to circumvent Google Play fees. This would have enabled developers to sideload games on Android (with an Apple version to follow) for a competitive fee of 10% to 12% - earning the three gaming giants extra revenue while sparing developers from the hefty 30% fee Google charges. Though, the pilot plan was to launch King games exclusively, not to open up the hypothetical platform to other external developers.
Activision Blizzard’s other idea, known as Project Boston, was to strike a deal with Google instead, to compensate from the 30% in-app purchases cut with Google’s advertising power. This deal was ultimately signed, worth more than $100 million, which Epic now alleges is evidence Google bought Activision Blizzard off to continue its Android monopoly.
The court case is still ongoing, but the question has to be asked as to whether Activision Blizzard and Microsoft may consider a similar app store venture now that the industry’s largest-ever acquisition has been completed. The concerns of a Microsoft monopoly would surely rise again, but now we know Activision Blizzard was already toying with the idea, perhaps the backing of a tech industry giant will give the idea just the push it needs…
After all, Epic Games CFO Randy Gelber did concede last year that because Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo subsidise their hardware, console stores are "entirely different than a mobile app store" and their fees are justifiable.
Epic has also recently bitten back at Apple, filing an appeal in the antitrust case and requesting that the US Supreme Court review the ruling of a lower court.
With Activision Blizzard now in the possession of Microsoft - who are rumoured to be working on their own app store - one has to wonder if such plans may once again rise to prominance.