Google is running one of the biggest mobile platforms. In South Korea, Google Play accounts for over 60% of the mobile game market.
However, there are a lot of problems with Google's recent move in South Korea. There have been errors in the popularity ranking and revenue ranking of Google Play. In addition, Google does not disclose the ranking criteria clearly. Google has also suspended a mobile game on Google Play that South Korea Game Rating & Administration Committee has rated. Some Chinese game companies have an external payment system that is not related to Google Play. However, these Chinese game companies were not sanctioned by Google.
The recent issue was the revenue ranking error of Google Play game category. From early January to early February 2020, mobile games which were at the top of the revenue ranking often disappeared from the rankings.
As a result, mobile games such as 'Lineage 2M', 'V4', 'Lineage M', and 'Rise of Kingdoms' have often disappeared from the revenue ranking. Recently, Nexon Korea released mobile game 'Counterside'. But this game also failed to be listed in revenue rankings for several days after its launch due to an error in Google Play.
This error hurts a lot of game companies in South Korea. In South Korean, Google Play's revenue ranking is stronger than any other marketing. Mobile games that are ranked in Google Play's revenue rankings are recognized as fun game or good game, which can attracts a lot of users. However, if the game disappears from the revenue ranking, then the user inflow decreases during that time. If this error occurs shortly after a mobile game is released, that mobile game takes a lot of damage.
There was another problem. As the top games in the revenue ranking disappeared, ranking of other games naturally rose. Then, in some games, the system that automatically spends marketing budgets if the game is within a certain revenue ranking worked. Some game companies spent their budget that they don't have to spend.
Most game companies couldn’t even complained to Google about this error. Because, there is concern that Google can list or delist their mobile game on recommended game list of Google Play. Google has an absolute influence in the South Korean mobile game industry.
This is not the first time that this error happens. It has happened a few times in 2017. But Google has never responded. I asked Google a few times about the error since early January 2020, but Google hasn’t answered. Google hasn’t explained it through other channels, either.
There is another problem. Some Chinese game companies run a separate payment system through their homepage to avoid paying Google Play's platform fee. But these companies are not sanctioned. It's not fair for other game companies. Gamevu has written an article about this since 2018. But Google has never answered about this issue.
In addition, mobile game 'Last Origin', which was rated R by Game Rating & Administration Committee, was shut down from Google Play.
In addition, Google was investigated by the South Korea Fair Trade Commission for alleging that it has put pressure on game companies to prevent the launch of games in the other mobile market, OneStore. It was also reported that the app review was delayed for no apparent reason or the refund was passed on to the developer. The lack of sanctions against these actions has left game companies unable to break Google's actions.
Recently, legislation was proposed to sanction Google's these actions. The bill contains regulatory provisions for those problems.
Of course, the best way to solve problems is to operate platform clearly. If you have a problem, open it, resolve it clearly, and promise to prevent it from happening again. As long as Google acts as it is now, there will be no "win-win" with the developers.
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