Microsoft kicks Apple where it hurts, says Epic, Steam stores ‘very welcome’ in Windows 11 Store portal
Microsoft’s Windows 11 event brought with it a lot of unexpected and interesting news, although not all of it was welcome, such as the system requirements needed to run the new operating system. However, among the very positive developments is Microsoft’s increasingly open stance on its platform which includes the introduction of Android app support. Among the changes includes Microsoft’s decision to allow developers to keep all of the revenue they generate within an app through their own or third-party payment systems.
This latest development follows Microsoft’s announcement back in April that it would drop the cut it takes from sales of games through its Windows and Xbox Stores (in Windows) to just 12 percent, down from 30 percent. Both these moves will have significant implications for Apple with its current court cases and impending antitrust investigations brewing in both the US and the EU. Apple has been pointing to the practices of others and Microsoft’s moves around in-app revenue will really hit Apple where it hurts -- particularly in its case with Epic Games.
In fact, Microsoft’s Panos Panay has told The Verge that both the Epic Games store and the Valve Steam store are both “very welcome” within the new Windows 11 Store. However, one factor that might still prevent this from happening is that Microsoft has said that sales of games through any third-party stores will still be subject to its 12 percent cut. The reason for this differentiation in charges applied to regular apps in-app purchases (no cut) and games (a 12 percent cut) is likely due to the 12 percent cut that Microsoft continues to take for game sales and in-app purchases through its separate Xbox app store within Windows.
Microsoft’s offer to host third-party stores like Steam and Epic within the Windows Store is nonetheless a major development in the app store landscape. Again, this is something Apple strictly prohibits on its iOS App Store, while also continuing to take a 30 percent cut of revenue from both app sales and in-app purchases for companies earning over US$1 million. As Panay puts it,”Windows already in many ways hosts those stores…”, by which he means in-directly through the web via the Windows platform. Panay added, “I really want this experience where you go to the store, you type the app in and you get the app you want.”
It will be very interesting to see whether Steam or Epic, or any other major third-party games store decides to take up Microsoft on its offer. While they may well lose some revenue for games they sell by inhabiting the Windows 11 Store, it has certainly become a much more viable option than it has been in the past. It might also force those same stores to rethink their own revenue sharing arrangements with developers within their own stores. This will particularly be the case if some of these developers decide to start selling their games on the Windows Xbox Store.