Video gaming is quickly becoming one of the most important forms of media in history, yet it also remains one of the least regulated in terms of business practices. Stories of giant game publishers taking advantage of smaller developers through methods that sound illegal, yet somehow aren’t have been buzzing around constantly ever since gaming has turned a profit. Luckily, a new Bill being presented could offer unprecedented protection to indie developers attempting to take on the mobile gaming market.
EFF reports that The Open App Markets Act would contain a number of clauses that keep major publishers from abusing their power over small indie developers. The basic ideas of the bill are as follows: Owners of app stores should not be able to control the prices apps go for on different services, nor should they be allowed to stop indie developers from communicating discounts to their player-base. App stores should not require their apps to use their specific in-app payments, and finally, app stores should not prevent users from using other app stores.
This bill specifically targets app stores with 50 million or more users, making it clear that this bill is designed to stop the largest of app stores: Namely Apple and the Google Play store, as well as some other high profile stores that would normally fly under the radar. Most notably, Apple has been in very hot water after their lawsuit with Epic Games, which highlighted some of the extremely predatory practices going on in the Apple store. Apple had been taking a 30% commission from all in-app purchases and had issued a gag-order stopping any app developers on their service from telling their players about any deals or cheaper pricing on other services.
Perhaps more interestingly, Valve has also been accused of many of these same scummy business practices. In fact, there’s currently an antitrust lawsuit being held against Valve by Wolfire Games, developers of Overgrowth. According to PC Gamer, the developers have accused Valve of suppressing competition on their store and taking a thirty percent cut of all sales. The accusations also include regulating prices so that no other stores are able to compete with Steam’s pricing.