Google is going to make it harder for developers to bypass the 30% Play Store fee
Google is going to update Play Store guidelines to get stricter with developers about in-app purchases and fees.
Google is going to get stricter with developers when it comes to in-app purchases, according to a report in Bloomberg. Some developers have managed to circumvent the 30% fee Google charges on in-app purchases (like Apple does) so far but that's going to change by next week.
The Bloomberg report states that Google is going to update its Play Store guidelines to clarify the requirement for apps to use Google Play's in-app billing service for all in-app purchases. And that just means that for anything you buy on any app, Google wants 30% of that as revenue.
This is going to make a lot of app developers very upset, particularly the ones who have managed to avoid that 30% fee so far. However, Google is not exactly changing its policies to make sure developers pay up. They are reportedly cracking down and will not allow developers to prompt users to pay with their credit cards any longer. If an app developer wants the user to buy something in the app, that will have to be offered through Google's billing service for in-app purchases.
Google's current Play Store guidelines mention that developers offering products within a game or any other app downloaded from the Play Store must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment. The only exceptions for this case are allowed for product payments if the product is physical (and not an in-app offering/feature) or of the digital content that's being paid for can be consumed outside the app.
So, for example, if you were buying a Call of Duty-branded t-shirt from the Call of Duty app, Activision would not have to pay Google 30% of that (sorry though, Call of Duty is not selling t-shirts on the app). Or if you were buying music from a streaming app that could be played on other music players, app developers would not have to pay Google 30% of that either.
In spite of these guidelines, Google had allowed some high-profile companies to circumvent rules by turning a blind eye when they offered alternate payment modes in-app. Now, with Google preparing to double down on these guidelines, developers circumventing rules will get a short grace period to comply before being enforced to follow.
Like we have said, this is going to annoy some developers. Apple came under fire for enforcing a similar practice recently, however, they have been more strict about their App Store requirements from the word go.
Google's decision to get stricter is going to escalate the ongoing battle between developers and Apple and Google. Currently, both Google and Apple are embroiled in a legal battle with Epic Games. Epic Games tried to circumvent the App Store and Play Store policies by asking Fortnite players to buy in-game content from Epic directly, that too at discounted rates. Apple and Google reacted by pulling the game off both the app stores.
Some of these miffed app developers like Spotify, Tile, Match Group and, of course, Epic Games, have recently formed the Coalition for App Fairness to “create a level playing field for app businesses”.