Epic Games’ opposition to using Google and Apple payment methods has started to take effect. Google has announced a series of changes regarding the distribution of apps on Android. Starting next year, although it will make it easier for other app stores to be installed on smartphones to use the payment methods they want, the apps that remain on Google Play must use the Google system and consequently pay 30% of commission.

In-app payments have become an increasingly controversial topic in recent months. Apple and Google have received criticism from multiple developers for their policies on how users are charged for updates and other digital content. Epic Games’ bold move with ‘Fortnite’ earned it an automatic ban from both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

This ban is something that would also have happened a year from now when the new Google Play terms apply. However, from Google they want to make it clearer for developers and that is why they warn that these changes are more of an update. That is why they have announced a series of changes for the next version of Android (version 12) and give developers one year to adapt.

Changes in the distribution of apps in Android 12

Two main points are the most relevant announced by Google today: the installation of third-party stores and the mandatory use of the Google payment method. But there are also other relevant points to highlight, they are all these:

  • Facilities to use other stores: Android has always allowed the installation of third-party stores and many manufacturers take advantage of this to set up their own store with app distribution apart from the Google Play Store. Now Google indicates that they will facilitate the installation of these third-party stores and above all they will seek to improve the security of the installation process and use of these stores.
  • Requirement to pay through Google in Google Play apps: While Android 12 will allow developers to distribute their apps through other stores and therefore use the payment methods they want, those who distribute their apps through Google Play must use the Google payment method. This means for example that ‘Fortnite’ can be installed without problems from the Epic store and thus skip the 30% commission. But if they decide that ‘Fortnite’ is also on Google Play, users who have downloaded the game from there when buying something in the game must do so through Google’s system and therefore pay a 30% commission to Google. The company emphasizes that only 3% of the apps are paid in its store and that of these, almost 97% actually already use its payment method.

Android 12 will facilitate the installation of other app stores and those that use Google Play must use their payment method

  • Same treatment and no preferences: A short reminder that Google apps, third-party apps and their competitors are promoted equally on Google Play.
  • Direct communication between developers and users: A clarification that developers can communicate as they want with their users (email, web, personal chat …) to solve their doubts and problems or offer them offers among other things.
    • Open to changes: Google remembers that they are open to changing and adapting the rules to incorporate the changes that may occur in the technological system. They give as an example the arrival of Xbox Game Pass to Android.

These changes in Google Play They will begin to apply from September 30, 2021 and with the arrival of Android 12. Now it remains to be seen if Apple makes a similar move, with its history and having a more closed system is going to be complex, but it can always surprise.

More information | Google