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Report : Apple Probed In Japan Over Anti-competitive Behavior

Japan is investigating allegations that pressure from Apple forced Yahoo Japan to pull back from a game platform that competes with the App Store, Nikkei Asian review reported .

The report said the Fair Trade Commission and the industry ministry began receiving reports from Yahoo last fall about issues surrounding its Game Plus platform. The web-based service, launched in July 2017, lets users play games without needing to download apps. For developers, the service features much looser restrictions surrounding sales, fees and software updates than Apple's App Store.

A total of 52 companies agreed to participate, including famed role-playing game maker Square Enix Holdings, with more expected to get on board. Yahoo could bring together data from its more than 60 million monthly active users -- such as search history, ads and payment information -- to help game publishers sell merchandise and create new titles. It envisioned expanding the platform into other areas such as business software, building a data economy unique to Japan.

But Yahoo abruptly slashed its budget for Game Plus last fall and has now all but stopped promoting the service. Square Enix in April pulled "Antique Carnevale," a new title developed specifically for Game Plus, off the platform.

Yahoo reportedly told multiple business partners that it was forced to cut back because of pressure behind the scenes from Apple. The Japanese company relies on the U.S. tech giant for part of its profits in the form of sales through the App Store.

The FTC has been gathering information on the situation, which it believes may constitute interference in Yahoo's business prohibited by the Anti-Monopoly Act. But its investigation seems to be getting bogged down.

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