Killing two birds with one stone is the objective of Microsoft’s latest press release. Both charged against Apple and a means of reassuring the authorities, Microsoft wants to redefine a modern and open App Store.
The platforms and more particularly the App Stores managed by the GAFAMs, are at the center of the concerns of the aroused in many countries, in particular in the United States. Apple and Google are regularly in the docks for their publishing policies for apps and games on the iPhone App Store and the Google Play Store on Android.
We can forget it, but Microsoft is also very involved in these issues. The giant has several hats, both developer of applications on the platforms mentioned above, but also publisher of the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 and Windows 11. In a long press release, Brad Smith, president of Microsoft and at the forefront of giant’s political files, returned to the Windows application store, but also to the takeover of Activision Blizzard, which should be the subject of an in-depth analysis by the FTC.
A policy too good to be true
He himself recalls in the preamble that the winners in the United States, the European Union and South Korea are considering more stringent regulation of practices on application stores to allow greater freedom on the part of developers, and so a more even contest. With this press release, Microsoft promises to take the lead in announcing rules that the Microsoft Store will have to follow, and which is ahead of what the bills will have to ask for.
- We allow all developers access to our app store, as long as they follow reasonable and transparent standards for quality and security.
- We will continue to protect consumers and gamers who use our app store, ensuring developers meet our security standards.
- We will continue to respect consumer privacy in our app stores, empowering them to manage their data and how it is used.
- We impose on our own applications the same standards as on competing applications.
- We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with apps from developers.
- We will treat apps equally in our app store without unreasonably favoring or ranking our apps or those of our business partners over others.
- We will be transparent about promotion and marketing policies in our app store and apply them consistently and objectively.
This is a fairly simple first group of rules that mostly looks like general and imprecise principles. The crux of the matter is instead in a second group of rules concerning the developers who will offer applications and games.
- We will not require our app store developers to use our payment system to process in-app payments.
- We will not require our app store developers to offer more favorable terms in our app store than in other app stores.
- We will not disadvantage developers if they choose to use a payment processing system other than ours or if they offer different terms in other app stores.
- We do not prevent developers from communicating directly with their customers through their apps for legitimate business purposes, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings.
This list looks like the wish list from developers, including Epic Games, sent to Apple for its App Store, but it is indeed the new rules issued by Microsoft. But where exactly will the firm apply these rules so virtuous for developers? This is where the bat hurts.
Windows yes, but not Xbox
Indeed, Brad Smith indicates in detail that all of this regulation will be applied to the Microsoft Store of Windows 10 and Windows 11. This is good news for developers who offer content for this store, but it is far to be a major force in the sector. Since the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft’s App Store has had a lot of trouble convincing, so much so that it still knows few users today compared to Apple, Google or Steam.
In other words, Microsoft is committed to a subject on which the company has not much to lose and where it can therefore, inexpensively, pass for the good student in the sector. We would almost forget that the Redmond firm has another much juicier store, that of the Xbox, which is even more closed and regulated than what Apple or Google can offer. According to Brad Smith, game consoles are obviously not to be compared with all-in-one devices designed for a lot of uses such as PCs or smartphones. It also indicates that the economic model of consoles provides that they will be sold at a loss and that the manufacturer will find profit on the sale of games. If this may be true in the past, he forgets that Sony and Nintendo sell their consoles for profit, without denying themselves a generous commission on the sale of games.
All this leads him to explain that, if the first part of the regulations concerns the Xbox Store, this will not be the case for the second part. ” We are committed to closing the gap on the remaining principles (the second part of the rules, editor’s note) over time,he says. Without specifying deadlines.
Keeping Activision Blizzard Games Cross-Platform
If Microsoft wants to appear as the good student, it is also and above all because the giant signed a record takeover of 68.7 billion dollars to swallow Activision Blizzard King. He knows that the file will be complicated, especially after the failure of the takeover of ARM by Nvidia. The firm therefore takes the lead by showing its credentials. In particular, the question arose of the danger for PlayStation if the console were to lose Call of Duty , one of the most popular games on the platform. Brad Smith’s answer is the most reassuring to date on the subject.
To be clear, Microsoft agrees to make Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available on PlayStation for the duration of the existing agreement with Activision. And we’ve made a commitment to Sony to also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and in the future, so Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love. We also want to take similar steps to support Nintendo’s successful platform. We think it’s the right thing to do for the industry, for the players and for our business.
It is clearly understood that the license Call of Duty and other Activision Blizzard games will continue to be available on PlayStation, even beyond the contracts in place prior to the acquisition. Beware, even with this statement, there are still loopholes that Microsoft can slip into to change its mind in the future. For example, the promise does not prevent the publisher’s new licenses from becoming Xbox exclusives. YesCall of DutyShould remain available on PlayStation, especially with Warzone, nothing prevents Microsoft from keeping the exclusivity of a campaign or an episode.
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