In a move welcomed by PlayStation and the general gaming community alike, Microsoft announced yesterday that it will continue to make Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard franchises multi-platform beyond existing agreements. One reason for this is that Microsoft wants to proactively tackle antitrust concerns regarding its ongoing $68.7 billion acquisition head-on. Apart from this, the company also announced a set of "Open App Store Principles" that it will be applying to its storefronts moving forward.
Microsoft says that its new set of principles ensures that it is providing the best possible experience to developers and customers alike, and that it continues to innovate in this space while complying with the demands of regulators. This is being done in advance of governments around the world developing legislation to handle antitrust concerns around app stores.
Microsoft is targeting four key areas with its Open App Store Principles, which are as follows:
Quality, Safety, Security & Privacy
- We will enable all developers to access our app store as long as they meet reasonable and transparent standards for quality and safety.
- We will continue to protect the consumers and gamers who use our app store, ensuring that developers meet our standards for security.
- We will continue to respect the privacy of consumers in our app stores, giving them controls to manage their data and how it is used.
- We will hold our own apps to the same standards we hold competing apps.
- We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with developers’ apps.
Fairness and Transparency
- We will treat apps equally in our app store without unreasonable preferencing or ranking of our apps or our business partners’ apps over others.
- We will be transparent about rules for promotion and marketing in our app store and apply these consistently and objectively.
- We will not require developers in our app store to use our payment system to process in-app payments.
- We will not require developers in our app store to provide more favorable terms in our app store than in other app stores.
- We will not disadvantage developers if they choose to use a payment processing system other than ours or if they offer different terms and conditions in other app stores.
- We will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their customers through their apps for legitimate business purposes, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings.
It is important to note that all of the aforementioned rules apply immediately to the Microsoft Store but for the Xbox Store, the company will start implementing the first three categories from now onwards. The remaining principles will be catered to on the Xbox Store "over time".
Microsoft says that the reason for this phased rollout on the Xbox Store is because the upcoming legislation only targets app stores on mobiles and PCs right now, not consoles. It has emphasized that it's good that the new legislation does not target gaming devices like consoles right now, because it is important to note that consoles are generally sold at a loss in order to build a sustainable ecosystem for developers. This loss is then recouped via app store sales and revenue.
Additionally, Microsoft made the following commitments:
- We will continue to enable developers to choose whether they want to deliver their apps for Windows though our app store, from someone else’s store, or “sideloaded” directly from the internet.
- We will continue to give developers timely access to information about the interoperability interfaces for Windows that our own apps use.
- We will enable Windows users to use alternative app stores and third-party apps, including by changing default settings in appropriate categories.
The Redmond tech giant has highlighted that it will continue to adapt and evolve these principles with the passage of time, and that it embraces the upcoming legislation as a change in the right direction.