Microsoft Announces New App Store Guidelines As It Courts Regulators Over Activision Blizzard Deal

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On Wednesday, Microsoft courted the favor of antitrust regulators reviewing its plan to buy video game maker Activision Blizzard, promising that any app store it builds will treat developers fairly.

Microsoft President Brad Smith outlined a set of “Open App Store Principles” that will apply to the store he runs for Windows PCs and “the next-gen marketplaces we’ll build for games. “.

“We have developed these principles in part to respond to Microsoft’s growing role and responsibility as we begin the process of obtaining regulatory approval in capitals around the world for our acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” said Smith in a statement.

Microsoft’s $69 billion (roughly Rs. 5,17,290 crore) deal to buy video game powerhouse Activision Blizzard must pass the hurdle with regulators in Europe and the US intent on curbing titans of technology.

After the merger plans were announced last month, analysts told AFP that the deal would certainly be scrutinized, but likely less intensely than an acquisition by Amazon, Google or Facebook’s parent company Meta. .

Microsoft appeared to be trying to differentiate itself from Apple and Google, which have been accused of tightly controlling their respective app stores and taking too much of the revenue generated by developers.

Microsoft’s stated principles included allowing all developers access to its app store and not requiring them to use the tech company’s payment system for in-app transactions.

All apps in a Microsoft store will be treated the same, according to Smith.

“We want to encourage more innovation and investment in content creation and fewer constraints on distribution,” he said.

“The world needs open app markets, and that needs open app stores.”

The tech giants have been criticized on multiple fronts for App Store controls.

In January, Apple was fined five million euros (around Rs. 40 crore) by the Dutch consumer watchdog for failing to allow dating app operators to choose payment options other than the Apple Pay system in its Dutch App Store.

In November, a US federal court ordered Apple to loosen control over its payment options on the App Store after a legal clash with Fortnite creator Epic Games, which accused the iPhone maker of exploiting a monopoly in its store of digital goods or services.

The U.S. judge, however, said Epic failed to prove that antitrust violations took place.

Epic Games is embroiled in bitter legal battles with Apple and Google, whose operating systems run nearly every smartphone in the world.

Both companies charge whatever fees they deem appropriate on transactions made on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

But app makers have become increasingly furious in recent years over the cut taken by the tech giants.


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