Google is reportedly getting stricter with its Play Store guidelines, and will make it harder for developers to circumvent Google for their in-app purchases. Much like Apple's App Store that requires all apps to share their in-app purchases revenue with Apple, Google wants all developers to share 30 per cent of their in-app purchase revenues.
Some developers like Epic Games have been encouraging users to circumvent the App Store and Play Store policies to buy in-game content directly from Epic Games by offering alternative methods of payments like credit cards.
The move that is likely to be announced as early as next week may upset developers, especially smaller ones. According to a report by Bloomberg, Google is going to issue updated guidelines clarifying a requirement for apps to use only Google's In-app Billing service for in-app purchases.
However it must be noted here that Google's policy is not necessarily changing, rather, Google is cracking down on developers that prompt users to pay with their credit card, rather than offering a subscription through Google's billing service for in-app purchases.
This is what Google's existing Play Store guidelines say, in part:
-- Developers offering products within a game download on Google Play or providing access to game content must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment.
-- Developers offering products within another category of the app downloaded on Google Play must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment, except for the following cases:
-- Payment is solely for physical products.
-- Payment is for digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g. songs that can be played on other music players).
Even with these guidelines in place, Google has so far not been overly strict about its 30 per cent revenue sharing model.
Apple has recently come under fire for a similar practice. Such high-margin revenue sharing results in revenues to the tune of billions of dollars for Google and Apple, so they have become increasingly protective of them.
Some developers, though, call it "app tax" and deem it excessive. Some of the top developers like Spotify, Epic Games, and Tile have formed a 'Coalition for App Fairness' with the aim to "create a level playing field for app businesses."
No details are available on how Google plans to enforce these rules more successfully. There is a chance it may make Google Pay a requirement for all in-app purchases and like Apple, limit the apps' ability to direct users websites outside the app for purchases or subscriptions.
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