3 min read

Google Play will let app devs use third-party payments to comply with new EU rules

The new Digital Markets Act will force Google to let developers of "non-gaming apps" broaden their monetization horizons.

The Google Play marketplace will be tweaked to let app developers support third-party payments in a bid to comply with the new Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The Digital Markets Act will require Google Play and other companies to adjust their operating model for users in the European Economic Area and support "billing alternatives" for non-gaming applications.

In short, that means Google needs to allow app devs in the EEA let users pay for digital content and services using third-party services.

Although Google specifies the move will only affect "non-gaming apps," its a notable change for those using the storefront and could be a sign of things to come as the EU continues to impose regulations it claims are designed to ensure "fair and open digital markets."

Google explains that devs who choose to use an alternate billing system will need to meet "appropriate user protection requirements," and noted that service fees and conditions will continue to apply in order to support its investments in Android and Play.

"When a consumer uses an alternative billing system, the service fee the developer pays will be reduced by 3 percent. Since 99 percent of developers currently qualify for a service fee of 15 percent or less, those developers would pay a service fee of 12 percent or lower based on transactions through alternative billing for EEA users acquired through the Play platform," wrote the company.

"As of today, Google will not remove, or reject updates of, non-gaming apps from participating developers for offering alternative billing systems for EEA users. Google Play’s billing system will continue to be required for apps and games distributed via Play to users outside the EEA, and for games distributed to users within the EEA. We expect to expand billing alternatives to developers of gaming apps for their users in the EEA, in advance of the DMA's effective date."

The DMA hasn't been officially adopted just yet, but Google said it's launching its own alternative billing program ahead of time so it can work closely with developers to ensure its compliance plans "serve the needs of our shared users and broader ecosystem."

Google's policy earns ire of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney

Although the new program doesn't cover games, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has blasted Google's for introducing what he describes as "fake open billing."

"Congratulations to Google, fast-following Apple to introduce fake open billing in Europe - "allowing" competing payment services but eliminating their ability to compete by demanding 27 percent of revenue," said Sweeney on Twitter.

"The result? Inflated in-app purchases funding Google's monopoly rent. Google has a long history of fake open initiatives, starting with Android 'allowing' competing stores then obstructing them through technical measures and a store cartel they forced carriers and OEMs to join."

Sweeney, of course, has a rather tumultuous history with both Apple and Google, having become embroiled in legal battles with both over Epic's attempts to include third-party payments in Fortnite on both companies' respective platforms.

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