Setting the Record Straight on Match Group’s Cynical Campaign Against Google Play
Google Play has been the launchpad for millions of developer businesses to connect with consumers around the world. That’s because we’ve earned the trust of billions of users as a safe place to find great apps and games. Google Play’s billing is an important part of our business model, and it allows us to provide consumers with critical safety protections from things like payment fraud and subscription abuse. But Match Group would have you believe that all Google Play provides is payment processing. This simply isn’t true, and Match Group knows it.
Match Group knows Google Play provides tools and a global distribution platform that helps developers grow their business. And Match Group knows this because they have used these tools and our platform to build a very successful global business. They want access to Google Play’s global distribution platform and users, they want to unfairly leverage Google’s substantial investments in the platform, and they want it all for free.
Many other developers recognize the value of Google Play and are partnering with us to grow the ecosystem in a responsible way, but Match Group is attempting to freeload off our investments rather than being a responsible partner. Now, after years of reaping the benefits of Google Play, Match Group is doing all it can to avoid paying for the enormous benefits it receives–including misusing the courts, lobbying policymakers, and even suggesting to investors that alternative billing systems would exempt them from paying for the valuable services they receive from Google Play.
And because Match Group doesn’t believe it should have to pay anything for the substantial services we provide, it’s willing to compromise user safety as part of a global campaign to smear our business and how we operate. We think the facts speak for themselves:
- Our fees cover the full range of services that Google Play provides, not just payment processing. Just as it costs money to build an app, it costs money to build a platform. Android and Google Play have expanded consumers’ access to affordable devices and services, provided cutting edge technologies to empower developers to build new features and experiences, put a global consumer base within reach for businesses around the world, and kept consumers safe on their devices at a scale that’s unparalleled. Because of the investments we’ve made, Google Play has built a dedicated consumer base of more than 2.5 billion 30-day active users in 190 countries around the world. It’s no small feat to earn that kind of loyalty, and the trust we’ve built has created economic opportunity for millions of developers that have built great businesses with us. Our service fee helps sustain this thriving app and game ecosystem.
- Our fees are the lowest among major app stores. Google Play is the first major platform to move away from one-size-fits-all pricing to meet developers’ different needs. Today, just around 3% of developers are subject to a service fee and 99% of those developers qualify for a service fee of 15% or less. Match Group’s apps, for example, are eligible to pay just 15% on Google Play for digital subscriptions, which is the lowest rate among major app platforms. Developers have praised our approach. Match Group claims that they’d suffer if they complied with our policies, but they already comply with the policies of other app stores that charge much more than Google Play.
- Regulators are investigating Match Group’s safety problems. Match Group wants to continue imposing its own billing system, a billing system that has repeatedly faced regulatory scrutiny for things like subscription fraud. Google Play’s billing system is focused on protecting users from these same types of abusive practices by providing transparency and easy-to-use features to manage purchases and subscriptions. Match Group may not like these protections, but consumers do.
- Match Group has had ample time to make changes. Match Group has known about Google Play’s billing requirement for years, and certainly since September 2020 when we began to bring previously non-compliant apps onto Google Play’s billing system. For the few developers like Match Group that weren’t offering Google Play’s billing to their users, we provided an additional 18 months to give the entire developer community ample time to make any necessary changes.
- Match Group isn’t interested in true user choice billing. While Match Group claims to support user choice, it has yet to offer its users that option in South Korea, where user choice billing is now available on Google Play. Likewise, they inaccurately allege that users “sometimes” pick Match Group’s billing 3 to 1 over Google Play. But many of their apps only offer Match Group’s billing. In the cases where Google Play is theoretically a user choice, it isn’t presented as a fair choice and is hidden in small text at the very bottom of the app.
- We’re the only major app store piloting true user choice billing. We recently announced a pilot to invite developers to help us test and iterate on user choice billing in other markets outside South Korea. We started with Spotify as our first partner as they have made substantial investments in the platform and have deep product integrations across all of Android’s form factors. We are actively looking to add more partners in the coming months and developers can express interest.
- Android is the only mobile platform that offers Match Group alternative distribution choices. More than half of Android devices come preinstalled with 2 or more app stores. Android is a uniquely open operating system and provides Match Group with multiple ways of distributing their apps to users outside of Google Play, including through other Android app stores, or directly to users via their website. And Match Group can of course distribute through Google Play as consumption-only apps.
As a platform, we’re always looking to work in good faith with partners to grow and evolve the ecosystem, but we’ll stand firm against false attacks on our business, especially when it puts users at risk and endangers our ability to continue investing in and serving our developer community.
No other mobile platform is as open as Android, and no other platform has shown more willingness to champion user choice, invest in change or collaborate with developers. Google remains focused on helping developers succeed and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to grow and improve Google Play.