There has been a heated debate raging on between developers and tech platforms regarding the commission or fees they charge for distributing content on their platforms. App store provides like Google and Apple (Steam, X-Box, Playstation the list goes on) take a 30% upfront cut of all revenue from developers.
Clearly, developers benefit from a well-curated distribution platform with a full set of distribution tools, content distribution network, sales platform, free developer tools (in the case of Google) and everything else that makes a modern digital distribution platform. However, most agree that the 30% split is akin to rent-seeking and not truly a fair cut, especially for smaller developers.
While there are many legal and regulatory battles being fought in many jurisdictions, including Australia, right now Google had announced that they would be lowering their percentage for smaller developers. This week they took the wraps off that plan, and we don’t mind it at all.
The new rules will see all developers, regardless of size or revenue get a new Play Store fee of 15% on the first $1 Million dollars (USD) in revenue they bring in. That means, unlike Apple’s implementation that might punish developers who just cross over that $1,000,000 mark everyone who distributes on the Playstore will get the same treatment for that first cool $1 mil.
It’s easy to criticise Google for not doing this sooner, or that this is only in response to legal and regulatory pressure, and that criticism is fair. However, we’re happy that Google has listened to the community and acted, and done so in a meaningful way.
We shall have to see if this $150,000 USD check to the larger platforms like Spotify and Epic Games is enough to make them back off, or do they just want to use Google’s platform for free? It is a shame that the developers have to wait until July 2021 for this to be implemented, but that’s not really that far away.