Why app-store commission is an antitrust issue for online games publishers
With an estimated global annual revenue of $1.5 billion in 2019, esports (or professional video gaming) was already a flourishing industry. 2020 looks set to be a defining year; while mainstream sports around the world were on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers turned to esports for their sporting fix. Online gaming is also booming: Twitch, arguably the leading streaming platform for gamers, is estimated to have grown its audience by up to a third in March alone
Much like traditional sports, esports now encompasses a variety of actors, including tournament organisers, leagues, teams, individual players, sponsors, advertisers and fans. As has increasingly been seen with traditional sports, we can expect that esports and online gaming will raise specific antitrust issues and will not escape the attention of antitrust regulators.
This article examines one such potential antitrust issue relating to the way in which online games are distributed by publishers, via app-stores, to the public. Specifically, it looks at:
- The mandatory commission charged by app-stores;
- Google’s justification of its mandatory commission; and
- Global antitrust investigations into Google and Apple’s practices.
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Managing Associate, Linklaters
Anand Patel is a competition/antitrust and disputes lawyer at Linklaters and editor of the firm’s sports law blog, SportingLinks. He focuses on all aspects of EU and UK competition law, with experience in London, Brussels and New York. His practice covers a range of sectors, including sports, pharmaceuticals, energy and TMT.
Marie-Marie de Fays was a former associate with Linklaters. Her practice focuses on all aspects of U.S. and EU antitrust law, with an emphasis on global pre-merger notification and the regulatory review process.