Microsoft’s “reasoned approach to app stores” that doesn’t apply to Xbox

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Microsoft President Brad Smith in an article outlining the company’s 11 principles for app stores:

Second, some may wonder why today’s principles don’t immediately and broadly apply to today’s Xbox console store. It’s important to recognize that emerging legislation is being drafted to address app stores on the platforms that matter most to creators and consumers: computers, mobile phones and other general-purpose computing devices. . For millions of creators across a multitude of businesses, these platforms function as gateways to hundreds of millions of people every day. These platforms have become essential to our daily work and personal lives; creators cannot succeed without access to it. Emerging legislation isn’t written for specialized computing devices, like game consoles, for good reason. Game consoles, in particular, are being sold to gamers at a loss to establish a robust and viable ecosystem for game developers. Costs are recouped later through revenue generated in the dedicated console store.

Nevertheless, we recognize that we will have to adapt our business model even for the store on the Xbox console. Starting today, we’re going to apply Principles 1-7 to the Shop on the Xbox console. We are committed to closing the gap on the remaining principles over time. In doing so, we will incorporate the spirit of the new laws even beyond their reach, while moving forward in a way that protects the needs of competitive and healthy game developers, gamers, and game console ecosystems.

This exception for game consoles echoes the arguments of Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, but as I wrote in August 2020, I don’t think they hold water. Microsoft and Sony can lose money on sales of Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but not Nintendo. Apple makes a huge profit selling iPhone hardware, but Google doesn’t profit the same from Android handset sales, and many companies that make Android handsets make very little money from hardware sales.

Companies will defend their own interests, of course, but it’s a bit rich to see Microsoft push for openness on all platforms corn game consoles — the only market where they themselves own and control a closed platform.

Monday, February 14, 2022

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