Developers looking to launch through online stores have always had to contend with platform owners taking a cut. Recently, the topic of billing method circumvention has entered the discussion, and it seems that Google is now taking actions to ensure all apps follow the rules equally.
A New York Times report by Daisuke Wakabayashi as highlighted the steep margins demanded by Google of developers for publishing games on its Play Store. According to the report, Google takes a 30 percent cut of payments from developers, and the company will now be ensuring apps no longer circumvent its payment systems for in-app purchases.
Google outlined the upcoming changes in a blog post on September 28, 2020. The post states that developers who already have apps on the Google Play Store will have until September 30, 2021, to implement the changes, so as to provide plenty of development time.
Exactly who these changes will affect is rather small. As Wakabayashi writes, “Only 3 percent of app developers on Google Play offered in-app purchases and, within that group, only 3 percent were not using Google’s billing system.”
For game developers, and developers of other types of apps, the problem here is obviously the duopoly Google and Apple have. These two companies essentially control the mobile gaming market, and can therefore charge whatever they please. This was a major point Epic made in its recent lawsuit against Apple and Google.
It’s a sticky subject that seems to be making waves in the gaming community. These waves always seem to lap up at the feet of Epic Games, who is known not just for its fight against Apple, but its extremely competitive margins on its own storefront.
These competitive prices are giving more developers reason to launch on the Epic Games Store versus Steam, where the cut Valve takes starts at 30 percent then works down to 20 percent if the game reaches $50 million in sales. In contrast, Epic Games’ 12 percent cut is downright generous.
It remains to be seen whether or not Google and Apple re-evaluate the cut they receive from sales. For now, it appears that all developers on the Google Play Store will be subject to the same fees.