As part of its Windows 11 announcements on Thursday, Microsoft revealed a major policy change to incentivize developers to make apps for the Microsoft Store: starting on July 28th, if a developer uses their own or a third-party payment system in their app, Microsoft will let them keep 100 percent of the revenue. But the deal has one important caveat: it doesn’t apply to games, Microsoft confirmed to The Verge.
That omission further muddies the ongoing debate about the differences between an app and a game and app store policies around each — a distinction that is one of the core issues in the ongoing legal battle between Fortnite-maker Epic Games and Apple.
Microsoft is largely on the side of apps and games being different because its bottom line depends on it. During the Epic trial, the company testified that it sells expensive Xbox hardware at a loss and makes its profits from the 30 percent cut it takes of game sales and subscriptions. But it also seemed like Microsoft was saying that PC games were different: the company recently announced that it would lower its cut of game revenues in the Microsoft Store from 30 to 12 percent starting on August 1st.
It’s not clear if Epic CEO Tim Sweeney was aware of the caveat when he tweeted this:
The 2021 version of Microsoft is the best version of Microsoft ever! https://t.co/RTpFHpWazG— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) June 24, 2021
While the new 100 percent revshare option doesn’t apply to games, it’s still a significant policy shift — one that both Windows chief Panos Panay and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a big deal about in their remarks at Thursday’s keynote. Now, we just have to see if the new model is enticing enough to bring more developers to the Microsoft Store and if the pressure will lead other platform holders like Apple and Google to make similar changes.