Microsoft announced Thursday that app developers will now be able to use their own payment systems in its redesigned PC app store. But the major policy change comes with a caveat: It doesn't apply to game developers.
In a blog post detailing upcoming changes coming both to Windows 11 and Windows 10, Microsoft says developers "will also have an option to bring their own or a third-party commerce platform in their apps, and if they do so they don't need to pay Microsoft any fee." The new policy goes into effect on July 28 and marks a notable shift in how the company has treated developers in the past, in a bid to bring more apps to the Microsoft Store.
But only app makers, not game makers, qualify for the option, which would allow them to avoid giving Microsoft a cut, the company confirmed to The Verge. Game developers are still bound by the 88/12 revenue split Microsoft announced at the end of April, which doesn't go into effect until August 1.
Microsoft, like most digital marketplace operators, relies on games for a large slice of store revenue. That means it's unlikely Microsoft would ever drop its commission rate to zero, though competitor Epic Games does allow both app and game makers to use their own payment system and bypass its commission on the Epic Game Store.
Both Epic and Microsoft have been outspoken critics of Apple, in particular the iPhone maker's 70/30 revenue share on iOS that was at the center of the Fortnite antitrust trial. During the trial, Microsoft executive Lori Wright defended the company's similar revenue share on Xbox, saying Microsoft takes a loss on Xbox hardware in order to make a profit on sales of digital goods. On PC, however, Microsoft says it lowered its commission to better compete against Epic and Valve's Steam and to attract more developers to its store.