News: Terms of Play Store Settlement Between US States and Google Revealed

December 20th, 2023
Estimated read time: 2 minutes, 44 seconds

Google to pay $700 million and make some Play Store changes.

The terms of an antitrust settlement between U.S. states and Google were revealed on Monday, December 18, which include a large fund for consumer and state payouts as well as Play Store changes to increase options and flexibility for consumers and app developers.

However, some say the penalties and promised changes aren’t enough. A recent article from The Verge describes the Google app store changes as “tiny” and some of Google’s concessions as “exceedingly minor.”

Read FastSpring’s press release on the December 11, 2023 ruling in the Epic Games case against Google, with quotes from FastSpring CEO David Nachman regarding FastSpring’s involvement in the case.

The Settlement

Reuters reports that the $700 million settlement includes $630 million that will go to a fund for consumers and $70 million that will go to a fund for use by states. The case was led by California, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee and Utah, but all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are involved in the settlement. 

According to The Associated Press, the settlement applies to an estimated 102 million U.S. consumers who made Play Store in-app purchases from Aug. 16, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2023.

Google says it will also make it simpler for users to download apps directly from developers and that it is expanding how app and game devs can offer alternative billing options to users for in-app purchases, Reuters reports.

Google released a statement about the settlement by Google’s VP of Government Affairs & Public Policy Wilson White. Regarding when the changes may happen, the statement ends with, “These proposed changes will go into effect after the Court formally approves the settlement.”

The settlement was reached in September, but per Reuters, the terms were not released publicly due to the related trial between Google and Epic Games. 

CNN further explains that while these states were going to be involved with Epic Games in litigating the case against Google, the states instead arrived at this settlement with Google and withdrew from the trial. Epic continues to move forward in seeking stronger penalties against Google.

Epic Games released a statement about the settlement by Epic’s Vice President of Public Policy Corie Wright, calling Google’s User Choice Billing system “deceptively-labeled” and arguing that “the States’ settlement does not address the core of Google’s unlawful and anticompetitive behavior. In the next phase of the case, Epic will seek meaningful remedies to truly open up the Android ecosystem so consumers and developers will genuinely benefit from the competition that U.S. antitrust laws were designed to promote.”

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