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Google Play under FTC investigation in Korea for alleged abuse of market position

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has reportedly begun investigating Google Play over allegations that the US tech giant’s mobile app marketplace abused its market position by pressuring local game publishers to initially launch new mobile games through Google Play only.

According to industry sources on Monday, Korea’s FTC has begun surveying local mobile game companies to review whether they were pressured or asked by Google to either “launch their games only through specific app marketplaces,” or to “not launch their games via other app marketplaces.”

The fair trade regulator is also looking into whether game companies faced negative consequences if they did not follow such orders, according to local media reports.

For Korea, where more than 90 percent of the population uses mobile devices running on Google’s Android operating system, Google Play dominates the app marketplace ecosystem.

According to the “Korea Mobile Internet Industry Report 2017” published last month by the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association, Google Play accounted for around 60.7 percent of mobile app content sales last year, with most of the revenue coming from mobile games.

Apple’s App Store accounted for 24.5 percent, while One Store, jointly operated by Korea’s three carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus and portal website operator Naver, accounted for 11.6 percent, according to the report.

The FTC’s investigation came after major mobile games -- including NCSoft’s “Lineage M” and Netmarble Games’ “Lineage 2 Revolution” -- were launched in Korea last year via Google Play and Apple’s App Store, but not One Store.

Even for mobile games that were launched on One Store, there were cases where games became available on the One Store some period after it was already made available via Google and Apple’s app marketplaces.

Google Korea said it could not provide official comment on this issue.

By Sohn Ji-young (
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Korea Herald daum