Google announced this week that it would expand a third-party Play Store billing system established in South Korea to other regions in a test pilot dubbed ‘User Choice Billing.’ Although the system will allow developers to use third-party payment options alongside Google’s Play payments program, some have voiced dissatisfaction with it.
Epic Games, which sued both Apple and Google over their respective app stores after both companies removed Fortnite for using alternate payment systems, told The Verge that both companies continue to “inflate prices” and reduce choice:
“Apple and Google continue to abuse their market power with policies that stifle innovation, inflate prices and reduce consumer choice. One deal does not change the anticompetitive status quo. We will continue to fight for fair and open platforms for all developers and consumers and work with policymakers and regulators to hold these gatekeepers accountable for their anticompetitive conduct.”
As a quick refresher, Google’s User Choice Billing system will allow developers to offer third-party payment alternatives alongside Google’s payment system. So far, Spotify is the only company that’s joined the system and it plans to build out the “new experience” over the “coming months.”
Epic confirmed to The Verge that it was not part of the pilot. However, the company didn’t clarify whether it rejected an offer to be in the pilot or if it wasn’t asked to participate at all.
Part of Epic’s dissatisfaction with User Choice Billing likely stems from the fact that Google still charges a fee to use it. In its current form, developers who offer User Choice Billing will pay Google four percent less than they would if they just used Google’s billing system.
The system fails to give developers a way to avoid paying fees to Google. More egregious is that internal Google documents detailed in a 2021 report indicated the company could break even with just a six percent fee — under User Choice Billing, most developers using third-party payment systems would still be on the hook to pay Google an 11 percent fee.
Source: The Verge