We may yet see Microsoft lower its cut of Xbox digital sales.
On Thursday, Microsoft announced a big change for PC games sold on the Windows Store. Starting August 1, Microsoft will only be taking a 12% cut from PC game sales on its store, a drop from 30%, leaving 88% for developers.
The 88/12 split is one that’s been gaining more and more traction in the industry recently, with many developers now openly calling the 30% cut unjustified. Epic Games, of course, fired the first shot when it made 88/12 the focal point of its decision to launch its own PC store. 70/30 remains the standard, however, including on the digital stores for both Xbox and PlayStation.
Nevertheless, Microsoft’s move may have appeared sudden, but it’s actually one the company has been contemplating for a while.
Court documents [PDF] that came to light in the Epic Games vs. Apple trial (via The Verge) reveal that Microsoft had actually intended for its revenue share to match Epic’s across PC and Xbox. The plan was to introduce both cuts to 88/12 in calendar year 2021.
When reached out for comment, Microsoft told The Verge, “We will not be updating the revenue split for console publishers,” which either indicates that the rollout on Xbox has been delayed, or that it’s been reconsidered entirely.
Interestingly, one particular stipulation Microsoft put forward for the PC business is that developers can only get the 88/12 revenue share model “in exchange for the grant of streaming rights to Microsoft,” allowing the company to expand its library of streamable xCloud games.
Microsoft did not reveal this clause in its announcement last week, and wouldn’t say whether it remains in the final agreement.
The rest of the document – much of which is redacted – also reveals the exclsuvity period for a number of Xbox-associated third-party games. STALKER 2 is exclusive for three months, whereas Tetris Effect: Connected is exclusive for six. The Gunk, on the other hand, is “exclusive in perpetuity.”