Microsoft’s decision to reduce its fees for game developers in its mobile store in Windows 10 wasn’t all that momentous. But it turns out that was just part of the original plan: As recently as January, the software giant planned to drop its game-related fees to 12 percent on Xbox consoles too. And that change would put some real pressure on mobile app store providers like Apple and Google. Not to mention its peers in the videogame market as well.
Will it still happen? Maybe.
The bad news? Microsoft says no. For now.
“We have no plans to change the revenue share for console games at this time,” a Microsoft statement claims.
But that wasn’t always the case and, if we’re lucky, it could still implement a change it was planning back in January when it provided internal documentation as part of the looming Epic v. Apple trial that explains it was planning to lower game-related fees on Xbox to just 12 percent as well.
“App stores have become a critical gateway to some of the world’s most popular digital platforms,” the Microsoft documentation explains. “We and others have raised questions and, at times, expressed concerns about app stores on other platforms. However, we recognize that we should practice what we preach.”
As part of a set of 10 guidelines it publicly announced in October 2020 and were designed to “promote choice, ensure fairness, and promote innovation,” Microsoft said that it was planning to do away with policies for which Apple, in particular, is finally being held accountable. It would not block apps because developers choose rival payment systems, for example, and would hold its own apps to the same standards to which it holds competing apps and be “transparent” about its rules and policies. And it will not block competing app stores on Windows.
But the bigger news, which it just announced this past week, is that Microsoft was planning to drop its game-related fees on Windows 10 from the arbitrary but industry-standard 30 percent to just 12 percent. That change to an 88/12 revenue split was just announced this past week.
But that same document also shows that Microsoft was planning to drop its game-related fees on the Xbox console as well. These types of fees cover one-time game purchases, subscriptions, and all in-game digital content (or what’s called downloadable content, or DLC). “All games will be moved to [a] 88/12 [split] in CY21,” the documentation says.
That bit is good news because it means that it could still happen. And if you read the Microsoft statement above, you can see that it specifically notes “at this time.” There are still 7 months to go in 2021.
Further helping matters, the change to an 88/12 revenue split for the Microsoft Store in Windows 10 was listed as happening in “H1 CY21,” which means the first half of 2021. And that change did happen on the stated schedule.
So this could still be happening, folks. And if it does, it will help influence a similar revenue split on other app and game store platforms. Not to mention making it difficult for regulators, judges, and juries to look the other way when it comes to Apple’s (and Google’s) unfair fee structures.