While Google allows for app sideloading, the Google Play Store is still the main venue for Android users to download their apps and games. The Play Store comes preinstalled on every Android device, making it extremely difficult for independent developers to compete. But the details of ongoing trials between Google and Epic reveal the plans for a dedicated Android app store for games that was in the works by Activision Blizzard.
Activision Blizzard could have its own mobile game store
According to Android Authority (via The Verge), internal emails and other documents seen during the courtroom hearing reveal that Activision Blizzard’s “Project Boston” aimed to build a mobile game store for the company’s customers. The store, dubbed “Steam of Mobile,” allowed users to move away from the Google Play Store and download their games from a store solely dedicated to Android games.
Users could install the “Steam of Mobile” store through sideloading. Epic Games and Supercell are said to be Activision Blizzard partners for “Project Boston.” However, the firm could be working on it independently.
Regarding transaction fees, Activision Blizzard’s mobile game store seemed far more affordable than the Play Store, with only 10 to 12% in fees. Google’s fees for Play Store transactions are now set at 30%.
Activision Blizzard reportedly planned to launch its store in 2019 or 2020 with mobile games like Candy Crush. The store was first planned to be launched in the US market for Android users. It could also expand to more markets and iOS if it succeeded. In 2021, Activision Blizzard planned to add all of King’s mobile games to the store. More features like multi-account support and push notifications could later come to the platform.
Despite a clear roadmap for the mobile game store, Activision Blizzard abandoned the plan after it reached an agreement with Google. The new deal allowed the game maker “capture stronger economics for ABK across mobile, YouTube, advertising, media spend, and cloud.” The deal was reportedly worth around $100 million.
The Verge’s report notes that Activision Blizzard used the mobile game store plan to put pressure on Google. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard’s Chief Financial Officer, Armin Zerza, said they abandoned the plan because “it wasn’t financially attractive.”