Google Accused of Crippling Play Store Alternatives

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The South Korean app publisher Kakao, best known for its lucrative instant messenger Kakao Talk, has accused Google of preventing the emergence of new game publishers on the internet. The company's first published mobile game, ONE for Kakao developed by Core Creative is apparently having trouble with staying relevant and growing its user base, and Kakao is convinced that this is due to the fact that Google is tampering with its online search service in order to stop Kakao and similar companies from launching alternatives to the Play Store.

Despite the fact that ONE for Kakao had an advanced reservation period during which the game has amassed 1.1 million users who expressed interest in playing it, the game hasn't yet joined the top 30 in the Google Play game app sales chart after almost two weeks on the market. The South Korean app publisher is certain that this is because it has originally only released its game on the Kakao Game Shop after which Google has made active efforts to prevent it from being searched so that it can stop the emergence of new game publishers. Certain industry experts tend to agree with Kakao and have explained the poor performance of ONE for Kakao as a direct result of Google's "tyranny" and the way the Mountain View-based tech giant is dominating other game distribution platforms in the country. More specifically, as the analyst firm App Annie points out, ONE for Kakao was only ranked as a 38th game in its respective Play Store category last Sunday, and Kakao is claiming that this is because its first mobile game wasn't searched well enough on Google's mobile app store between June 3rd and 7th. The company even inquired about the suspicious search statistics at Google but says it hasn't received a satisfactory answer that would put its concerns to rest.

Furthermore, the mobile publisher has also revealed that Google has suddenly stopped its paid keyword search ad for ONE for Kakao during the aforementioned period. Sources report the reason for that interruption was the fact that Kakao was breaking Google's ad guidelines regarding not allowing successive special characters in its keyword ads, but the company is still convinced that this was just Google's way of getting back at them for not initially choosing the Play Store to launch their first mobile game.


Despite Play Store's worldwide dominance, Google's app distribution platform isn't nearly as prevalent in South Korea as it is in the West. Last year, the Play Store accounted for "only" 51.4% of the app market in the Far Eastern country. As for Kakao's accusations of sabotage, Google has yet to publicly respond to them, provided it even plans to do so.