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Apparently it’s not just Epic Games trying to find ways to get around exorbitant charges in mobile app stores. According to the mobile game analysts at GameRefinery, there is a trend for mobile game studios to use their own web stores to avoid in-app purchase costs.
Games like Clash of Clans, Star Trek: Fleet Command, Game of Thrones: Conquest and Marvel Strike Force all have online stores. These web stores allow the purchase of in-game currencies and upgradeable items. Some of them even offer exclusive deals and discounts for online stores that are meant to encourage purchases outside of the actual games.
“The vast majority of mobile games are free-to-play titles and earn the majority of their revenue through in-app purchases,” GameRefinery’s Kalle Heikkinen said in a statement to GamesBeat. “Considering many of the most popular mobile games grossing over $100k every day, it’s no surprise that studios are looking to move their in-app purchases to channels beyond those where Apple and Google can charge a fee, especially if larger studios have to still pay a 30% fee, instead of the reduced 15% rate for independent developers and small businesses.”
GameRefinery has the details
GameRefinery data shows that Marvel Strike Force made $4 million in in-app purchases in the past month. One of the most popular mobile games of all time, Clash of Clans made $6.7 million in the same period.
This isn’t change we’re talking about here. Developers and publishers looking for ways to avoid losing millions of dollars to Google and Apple isn’t exactly a shock. Later on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see web stores become an expected part of a new mobile game.
“We expect more mobile game publishers to follow in the footsteps of Warner Bros. and Supercell by setting up their own online stores, which could encourage Apple and Google to rethink their fees for larger studios,” Heikkinen said. “However, since Apple and Google don’t allow in-app advertising for these merchants, mobile game publishers still face challenges around accessibility and visibility of these merchants, especially since the process of purchasing items is in-app. such a streamlined experience.”
Progress does not wait for lawsuits
The recent win over Google by law firm Hausfield for a $90 million settlement probably doesn’t change much. The lawsuit was on behalf of developers making less than $2 million in annual sales.
Games like Clash of Clans go way beyond that. Google’s changes, such as the 2021 program that offered lower costs for a developer’s first $1 million, aren’t really a factor. There is little incentive for the great successes not to shift to web stores.
That a game becomes popular enough to make a lot of money means that app stores get a bigger discount is strange. Even if a game can’t advertise the existence of an online store, eventually every game will have one. You don’t have to advertise something that is accepted as a core component.
And you don’t have to wait for a lawsuit to make things fairer. You can build a road around the whole mess.
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