Google is allegedly planning to update its Play Store guidelines to illustrate that most apps on its platform must use the tech giant’s billing service for in-app downloads, game upgrades, and subscriptions, according to a latest report. This system lets Google take a 30% cut of in-app purchases. The update could come as early as next week.
Though the Play Store requirement related to in-app purchases has existed for years, major developers like Tinder and Netflix have circumvented the rule. After Google updates the app store guidelines, the tech giant will reportedly give developers time to update their apps.
Google Plans Apple-like move for Play Store
A spokesperson for the search engine giant told Bloomberg:
“As an open platform, Android allows multiple app stores. In fact, most Android devices come with at least two stores right out of the box, and users can install others. For developers who choose to distribute their apps on Google Play, our policy has always required them to use Play’s billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods. We are always working with our partners to clarify these policies and ensure they are applied equitably and reasonably.”
The reported change comes as Google faces a lawsuit from Fortnite developer Epic Games. In August, Fortnite was removed from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store after attempting to bypass the 30% fee the companies charge developers. The gaming giant sued both companies in response. Epic’s lawsuit against Google says Android’s claim that it’s an open ecosystem is a “broken promise.”
While this 30 percent commission requirement has existed for years, the report notes that some major developers like Netflix and Tinder have bypassed the rule by urging customers to pay directly using a credit card, rather than their Play Store account.
The report claims that when Google’s updated guidelines are implemented, major developers currently not in assent will be given time to update their apps and are unlikely to face instant removal from the Play Store. For perspective, Apple has similar rules in place for its App Store, but it has been much more assertive about enforcing them from the start.
The new Coalition for App Fairness — of which Tile, Epic Games, Spotify, and Basecamp are all members — has also been fighting for a change to these practices. While the coalition only currently targets Apple, this more aggressive enforcement by Google could result in the Coalition cracking down on the search engine giant as well.