We all knew that app distributors like Apple and Google were getting cuts in exchange for having your apps on their platforms. But it wasn’t until this whole Fortnite that this issue has been brought to the attention of the general public. Apple is notoriously stricter when it comes to getting a cut in the in-app purchases or IAPs while Google can be a bit more lenient. But some reports are now saying that Google will be making a move soon to be stricter in terms of getting a cut on all their IAPs.
In theory, Google should be getting 30% of the purchases made within the apps that are published on the Google Play Store. This includes content downloads, game upgrades, and subscription services. Normally, this is done through the Google billing service. But some major developers have found a workaround by prompting users to use a credit card to pay for these and it happens on their websites, bypassing Google fees.
Apps like Netflix, Spotify, and most recently Tinder and Fortnite have been doing this or have recently done this. Bloomberg is reporting that Google is working on updating their app guidelines to push these apps to use the billing service within the Google Play Store in order for them to get a 30% cut on all the IAPs. Those that are not currently compliant will be given time to update their system.
Obviously, if this happens, developers will not take to it kindly. As it is, there are already movements among big, small, and independent developers to get Apple and Google to revise or even remove this policy as they feel this is an “unfair and unwarranted tax”. The two tech giants have made billions in dollars from their cut so they probably will not cave into this demand in what will be seen as a battle between developers and platforms.
But there may also be some wiggle room in this situation as Apple has become less stringent as they suffer from the backlash of the whole Epic Games/Fortnite issue. If Google is really planning to release updated guidelines, expect developers to cry once again for fairer app store policies.