EU opens antitrust probe into Play Store's billing guidelines

The Google Play Store application as shown on a smartphone display
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The European Commission’s antitrust enforcers have launched an investigation into Google's app store rules.

The US tech giant's rivals have received confidential questionnaires from Brussels, according to Politico, which centre around queries challenging the billing terms and developer fees for Play Store.

Google’s high developer fees and refusal to allow alternative billing systems to collect payment from users are among the matters being investigated by officials.

The ongoing Netherlands’ investigation into Google's Play Store rules will likely come to a close as the EU examines anticompetitive conduct on an EU-wide scale, sources said. As matters stand, Google faces heightened regulatory scrutiny, with the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also investigating its Play Store.

In a statement, Google said the company had been discussing "a number of things" with the Commission, including recent changes to make Play Store terms and conditions equitable to address allegations of unfair conduct from developers.

As of July 2022, the company had made arrangements to allow select app developers to use alternative billing systems in the Play Store when collecting payments from European users. Google also promised reduced developer fees to comply with the EU’s recently proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) which prevents large companies from abusing their market power to hinder competition.

Per reports, the DMA will be written into the EU’s rulebook by October, and tech firms affected by it are required to comply from 2024.