Earlier this month, potentially the most disruptive thing happened in the mobile industry since Apple launched the iPhone: Fortnite (Free), the biggest game in the world, announced that they would be distributing the game themselves instead of using Google Play. I really don’t think many people appreciated what a huge deal this was, as both Apple and Google have more or less had a complete stranglehold on the mobile app market since … forever. Epic’s Tim Sweeney threw down the gauntlet by saying, “The 30% store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70% must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games." It would seem that Facebook and Netflix agree.
This news comes from two separate reports: The first is from GamesIndustry.biz who are reporting that Facebook will no longer take any revenue from developers who release Instant Games on their Android platform, instead of the 70/30 split they used to have and this is applying retroactively. Additionally, per Market Watch, Netflix is poking around in a few test markets trying out a version of the app where you aren’t able to register for the streaming service at all.
Currently, the way the new user flow works is you download the Netflix app, and if you don’t have an account you can just begin subscribing right through iTunes subscriptions… Where Apple takes their 30% cut. In these test markets, that’s no longer an option, and users need to find their way to Netflix.com to sign up and pay for the service outside of Apple’s ecosystem. Spotify has been doing this forever, and arguably more vocal than most companies when it comes to what a raw deal the platforms are serving up.
It puts Apple (and Google) in an interesting position, as much like Spotify, it’s not like they can boot Netflix off of the App Store. iOS users wouldn’t put up with that, and it would turn into a major deciding factor on what their next mobile device would be. I play a ton of my games on my iPad, but iOS exclusives are so rare now that if it came down to am I going to buy the new iPad which doesn’t have Netflix or the next Samsung tablet that does have Netflix, it’s a fairly easy decision.
I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but these are very interesting times we’re living in. The App Store and Google Play had been seen as these untouchable behemoths that you have no choice but to play ball with and pay 30% for years now… But, in the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’.