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Microsoft debated reducing revenue share on consoles as well as PC

Microsoft reportedly considered reducing the share it takes from digital game sales on console as well as PC, but eventually decided against changing revenue splits on Xbox.

Alissa McAloon, Publisher

May 3, 2021

2 Min Read

Microsoft was, at one point, considering a change to its revenue share scheme on both console and PC but eventually decided to reduce its cut on PC only.

According to documents obtained by The Verge just ahead of Epic Games vs. Apple court date, Microsoft did consider reducing its 30 percent cut of digital Xbox game sales to only 12 percent as recently as January 2021, but seemingly abandoned that plan at some point since.

The idea, according to that partially redacted court document, was to shift all of Microsoft's video game storefronts to an 88/12 revenue share at some point this year, ultimately giving a larger cut to developers on both PC and Xbox and matching similar splits from the likes of the Epic Games Store, Apple's App Store, and Google Play.

Of course Microsoft did announce a coming change from a 70/30 split to an 88/12 revenue split last month, but only for PC games sold through its Microsoft Store. That change is set to take effect on August 1, 2021 and aims to make the platform a more attractive option for game developers on Windows.

"[This is] a clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so," explained a blog post covering that change from Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty.

That earlier announcement makes no mention of Xbox potentially following suit, and a Microsoft spokesperson responded to The Verge with a rather definitive statement of “We will not be updating the revenue split for console publishers.”

Many platforms have walked away from the rigid 70/30 revenue split default in just the last few years alone, but until now there hasn't been so much of a whisper of consoles following the footsteps of PC storefronts and mobile app stores. Developers have voiced their dissatisfaction with that old standard as recently as this year's State of the Industry report where only 3 percent of respondents thought a 70/30 split was justified.

Still, console makers are likely keeping a keen eye on the Epic Games v. Apple court proceedings that brought Microsoft's abandoned Xbox revenue changes to light given that a judge warned last year that the case could have "serious ramifications for Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft and their game platforms" as well.

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