Epic Games, the development studio behind Fortnite, is trying to petition Google to drop its 30 percent cut when users make digital payments through apps sold via the Play Store.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get into it.
Google takes a 30 percent cut from each payment made in an app. This includes all in-app payments, which are commonly known as microtransactions, and also only applies if the app is sold in the Play Store.
The tech giant’s terms of service also make developers use Google’s secure payment system so there’s no way around this if you want a spot in the store.
This is a standard industry practice. For example, Spotify has been fighting Apple regarding similar payments made via the App Store. There’s no word regarding if Epic is taking the fight to Apple as well as Google.
To skirt around this practice on Android, developers can make their apps available to download on the web. This process is known as sideloading, and is what Epic Games has been doing since it launched Fortnite on Android in the summer.
What Epic Games asked for
To begin its lobbying against Google, Epic’s statement said, “Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard,” according to 9to5Google.
“We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase. We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30 percent fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50 percent market share.”
This is a fair statement since Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system and most developers who don’t have the power of Epic have little hope of their app or game being found on the Play Store, let alone the whole internet.
Google later rebutted, according to 9to5Google, and said no to Epic’s request. This wasn’t a shock since Google makes a ton of money from the 30 percent off of the top of every transaction from the Play Store. It also can’t just provide Epic with an exception because that opens the flood gates for other devs to ask for the same special treatment.
While this shot at getting rid of the Play Store’s payment fee failed, it’s nice to see another big name developer join the fight against app fees.