Google to update Play Store guidelines to make it harder to bypass the 30% fee

Google to update Play Store guidelines to make it harder to bypass the 30% fee

Google will reportedly get stricter with developers over in-app purchases, according to Bloomberg. The move is set to be announced next week and will surely upset some developers who have previously circumvented Google’s rules.

Bloomberg’s report claims Google will issue updated guidelines that will clarify a requirement for apps to use Google Play In-app Billing service for in-app purchases. That means if you purchase a Spotify subscription through the Android app, Google wants its 30% cut of the revenue.

Google’s policies aren’t necessarily changing. Rather, the company is reportedly cracking down and will no longer allow developers to prompt users to pay with their credit card, rather than offering a subscription through Google’s billing service for in-app purchases.

Here’s what Google’s existing Play Store guidelines say, in part:

  • Developers offering products within a game download on Google Play or providing access to game content must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment.
  • Developers offering products within another category of app downloaded on Google Play must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment, except for the following cases:
    • Payment is solely for physical products.
    • Payment is for digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g. songs that can be played on other music players).

Even with these policies in place, Google has more or less allowed some high-profile companies to circumvent the guideline by turning a blind eye when they offer an alternative method of payment. With Google ready to double down on the requirement, developers will allegedly get a short grace period to comply before facing enforcement. Apple has recently come under fire for a similar practice — though the Cupertino-based company has strictly enforced its own requirements from the very beginning.

Google’s updated policies will surely escalate what is growing into an ugly battle between developers and Apple and Google. Both companies are already embroiled in an ugly legal battle with Epic Games, which recently tried to circumvent App Store and Play Store policies by encouraging Fortnite players to purchase in-game content from Epic directly. Apple and Google responded by taking Fortnite down from their respective app stores.

Meanwhile, it was announced this week that some of the industry’s most popular developers, including Epic Games, Spotify, and Tile, were banding together to create the Coalition for App Fairness. The group’s aim is to “create a level playing field for app businesses.”

Google’s Android platform allows users to access multiple app stores, while apps can also be side-loaded. But if developers want to be in the Play Store, they have to abide by Google’s rules. We’ll see what the response is like when Google clarifies its stance on in-app purchases next week.

About author

Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.