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Google follows Apple in reducing its cut of app sales

It's a not so subtle jab at Epic.

Published onMarch 16, 2021

Google Play Store front page - best Android apps
  • Google is reducing its cut of Play Store app and service sales to 15% for the first $1 million of a developer’s revenue.
  • This follows a similar move Apple made for App Store developers in November.
  • It’s partly a response to legal concerns, including Epic’s.

Life might soon get a little easier for indie Android app developers. Google is reducing its cut of Play Store app and digital goods sales from 30% to 15% for the first $1 million of revenue a creator earns each year, echoing a similar move Apple made in November of last year. The smaller cut will take effect starting July 1, 2021.

It could have a significant impact. Google claimed its smaller take would cut the fees for 99% of Play Store developers in half, potentially helping them grow by offering more money for staff and servers. The move could also help mid-sized app creators that still face challenges as they grow, Google VP Sameer Samat said.

More details are due in the “coming months.”

See also: The 15 best Android apps

As you might guess, this isn’t strictly altruistic. The reduced Play Store cut comes relatively soon after Epic sued Google and Apple, alleging that both were violating antitrust laws by insisting that purchases in their stores use their official payment systems. The Fortnite developer positioned itself as crusading for indie developers that struggled under the 30% cut. In theory, Google is undermining this legal battle much like Apple did — small studios should fare better, but giants like Epic will still have to pay 30% for all but a small fraction of their sales.

It also helps that Google can likely afford this. Sensor Tower noted that publishers earning under $1 million represented less than 2% of games revenue on Apple’s App Store throughout most of 2020, and there’s no reason to believe Google’s situation is wildly different. Google can likely halve its Play Store cut for smaller developers while losing little money. It should also profit in the long run as more indies grow and have to pay that 30% fee. This isn’t a tremendous sacrifice, then, even if it stands to help app makers at large.

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