How many consoles support different payment systems?


I’m not a gamer but I’m curious to know how ‘open’ the various console systems are in comparison to the restrictions mentioned in Epic’s complaint against Apple’s mobile platform.

Comments (20)

20 responses to “How many consoles support different payment systems?”

  1. Usman

    Consoles aren't general purpose operating systems, thats the difference. I don't lug around a console to do my primary personal computing needs. The smart phone has replaced most of the need for using a personal computer, and as iPad OS gets more traction and replaces Windows and Mac laptops as part of the 'post-pc' era, we have to have a serious discussion on a variety of topics.

    1. Does the operating system developer also get to dictate what applications can run on device
    2. Should the operating system vendor take a huge 30% cut for being a payment processor for native applications.

    a. On iOS there is no alternative way to install native applications, so any content purchased via an app/service has to go via Apple's payment processor and require a 30% revenue share to go to Apple.

    b. on Android, yes you can side load applications however the play store is the monopoly store on that platform. For Google Play I am little on the fence, due to the separation of operating system and Google Play. There however can be an argument made that even despite the separation, the general purpose personal computing software acquisition methodology on Android has converged into the Play Store and the Play Store itself is a monopoly in terms of software acquisition on Android. Google has abused its market share in a number of ways.

    i. Google Play in 2020 is now the main store for apps on android, it uses this market position to lock out key Google apps like Maps and also force market adoption of other apps that aren't key to the android operating system like Allo, Duo, Hangouts, Google Plus (RIP) and other Google services

    ii. Google also prevents any licensee of the Google Play store to create android devices without Google Play Services. So any high end or high quality Android phone, will come with Google Play preinstalled and within the ecosystem it is the defined way of acquiring software.

    iii. Google Play contracts with certain OEMs restricts pre-installation of software not from the Google Play store

    iv. Because of current consumer and behaviour habits, the Google Play store is the way software is acquired, even though you can acquire it outside, it's still a minority way of doing so. Its why the Windows and Mac stores aren't that threatening since they are the minority way of users acquiring software.

    v. Here Google also takes a 30% cut when all it is doing is being a payment processor and for a payment processor that 30% cut is super high, for literally doing nothing more. The software was acquired and runs on the device, further revenue at a 30% cut being paid to a monopolistic software store after software installation is still steep.

    c. Windows is a general purpose operating system, however their attempts at replicating this has failed. There was outrage from both Epic and Valve when Windows 8 and RT were being released. One could make the argument of the store being a safe software distribution mechanism, however in 2020 those components from the Windows Store have been split out and the MSIX packaging technology can be used without the need of going through the Windows Store. If the store succeeded, this argument will continue and be a much bigger deal.

    d. The Mac App store is a funny one, it also suffers from the same issue as the Windows Store, ie lack of users. Many indie mac developers hate the Mac Stores revenue cut policy and still distribute their software in the traditional dmg file downloads.

    i. However things could change when iOS apps come to the Mac natively. Here we have a traditional general purpose operating system (MacOS) running apps from a modern general purpose operating system (iOS and iPadOS). Since those applications are now running on a traditional computer natively, is that application platform still subject to App Store rules even on what we would consider a general purpose operating system.

    ii. When the lines between Mac OS app and iPad OS app are blurred, is apple still allowed to dictate what applications can run on a genral purpose operating system that they have created.

    The debate here is really about the future of personal computing and software. iOS and Android aren't just phone operating systems anymore, they are personal computing for nearly 3 billion people combined (Apple 1 billion, Google 2 billion). Think about the freedom of software acquisition and running of said software we've had on Windows Mac and Linux, and now how the future of personal computing is being dictated by arbitrary store requirements.

    Feel free to pick any holes, happy to have an open discussion, I'm a software engineer, and it's interesting to see how it's gone from a medium of creators taking all the revenue to now the creators being required to give a cut to the operating system vendor because they said so and in iOS's case it's the only way to get your software on that platform. For android, it's possible to do so with out, and for someone like Epic, it make sense to create a store.

    • navarac

      In reply to Usman:

      A rational discussion, Usman.

      One thing that needs mentioning is that the device (iPhone/Android phone or whatever) does not belong to Apple/Google etc. If the device was given for free, even I would accept a walled garden and other restrictions. At least with Windows and, of course, Linux I am free to obtain software from wherever I like, although with Linux Ubuntu, Cannonical seem to be trying it on with the Snap Store as well, which caused a recent kickback by Linux MInt !

      To me, what is totally obscene is that "shakedown" of developers by Apple and Google to the tune of 30% for sitting on their butt.

      • cavalier_eternal

        In reply to navarac:

        Again, the debate about the price is legitimate. Saying Google and Apple are simply sitting on their butts is inaccurate. In both cases they carry the cost of developing their respective platforms, infrastructure to deliver apps and developer tools. That is far from doing nothing for developers. Probably more importantly when developers use either the iOS App Store or Google Play they are leveraging the brand and good will that Google and Apple have developed with the customer base. I have made purchases with apps that I wouldn't have made if I had to provide my credit card info directly to the developer because I had never heard fo the developer. I trust Google and Apple with credit card info, I know I can easily cancel a subscription and know they have a support process for their payments. No way in hell I would just fork over that information to some developer I have never heard of. So, yeah that is all something. A reasonable argument can be made that larger developers like Microsoft, Adobe, Netflix, Spotify, Epic ... have good standing with customers and can absolutely be trusted by customers with payment information but then we just throw the door to placate the minority of Apps? Unfortunately I think this is all a bit more complicated than people want to admit.

    • cavalier_eternal

      In reply to Usman:

      I think there there is a reasonable argument that 30% is high for what Apple or Google offer but to say that the 30% is simply for purchase processing isn't accurate.

  2. Usman

    In reply to lvthunder:

    The devices are personal computing devices for many people and it's even advertised as such. There are many iPhone adverts that showcase its versatility, from watching video, to tuning guitars, making videos, checking email, it is the personal computing operating system for many people.

    The point I'm trying to make is that we can't classify smartphones as just smart phones like they were coming out in the mid 2000s, they have evolved into pocket personal computers. It's how people have started to use smartphones and shift away from traditional PCs.

    They are utilised as such and also marketed like it as well, the great example is the 'what's a computer advert', sure its for the iPad Pro, but the iPhone runs the same internals apart from the graphics chip and also at that time the same operating system (iPadOS split occured after, but even then, iPad OS run the same / similar application platform) and the reach of the iPhone is greater than the iPad. Also these same store restrictions apply to the iPad as well.

    I don't view this as just x vs y, we have to look at what are the intended use cases for each of these devices and how public behaviour is towards them.

    The issue with Xbox and PlayStation, is that when we look at user behaviour, they're not using those devices as personal computational devices and they're stationary devices. The install base of Xbox One is about 50 million and PS4 is about 120 million, they're fairly small compared to the billion iOS based devices and the user behaviour towards those devices on a general scale. They're designed to play games, they can do ancillary computational services but they're not the primary high percentage use case for it. If UWP took off on Xbox and there were 100 million Xbox One sales and many people started using it for the app store specifically of the Xbox One, then there would be a debate about that, but that hasn't happened. They're heavily advertised for playing games and that's the majority use case and the operating systems are tailored to reaching that goal.

    If Apple makes a games console for Apple Arcade, then the 30% cut argument could be justified for that specific device, or license on that system, since it's not where people do their computing, however, it can still be compared to other consoles and how other consoles handle subscriptions like EA Access.

    Also we are talking about difference in scale here, 100-200 million compared on a device / platform that's specifically for gaming, compared to a billion on a platform that has become the main personal computing operating system.

    Traditional Windows and Mac will go away for majority of people. With iOS and iPad OS apps coming to the Mac, it also brings the AppStore requirement for those apps on the Mac as well. As it stands, based on public behaviour, education via marketing, software on these platforms will be acquired via a store regulated by operating system vendor, and that puts a control on software availability and software acquisition.

    My Note 9 is super versatile, I carry a type c hdmi dongle for my laptop but also that works on my Note 9, I just connect it via HDMI, and I have a continuum style experience with dex, and that's what these phones are. They're general purpose computers, just on a smaller screen, imagine when a dex like experience come to iPhone and you're still only allowed to use apps verified and validated by apple. My argument is solely based on that these operating systems are always marketed as such.

    I'm seeing that people minimizing what iOS, iPad OS and Android are today, the impact they have to billions of users in the world and how they are used. And this store behaviour is also impacting Windows leading to the obsession with RT and S mode.

    They're pocket computers, both Google and Apple want these to become the only computing devices people use. If they want that, just let software run, and not charge a high fee for someone making money from their software running on the operating system and devices that they tout as 'post-pc' devices.

  3. anderb

    The answers so far have not answered my specific question about consoles e.g.

    Does Xbox allow an application to be installed from the Microsoft Store that can then install games from outside the Microsoft Store?

    Does the Playstation have multiple app stores?

    Does the Nintendo Switch allow purchases to be made from outside the Switch eShop?

    How many consoles allow games purchased via Steam to be played?

    • Usman

      In reply to anderb:

      Xbox allows digital Games and UWP applications only through the Microsoft store. PlayStation has it's own digital games and entertainment apps store, and same thing with Nintendo. Steam games can't be played on consoles.

      PlayStation and Xbox do have EA Access, which is an EA subscription service, it still uses the store pipeline for the respective platforms.

      All these platforms allow for direct payment or via paypal.

      In your context, we're trying to compare the App store to the console store, when in reality we should be compare iOS and iPad OS's software restrictions and rules to that of Windows and Mac, as that's a more direct comparison than comparing a multipurpose portable computational devices to ancillary gaming dedicated devices.

    • wright_is

      In reply to anderb:
      Does Xbox allow an application to be installed from the Microsoft Store that can then install games from outside the Microsoft Store?

      I haven't had a console for many years, but... Xbox and PlayStation games are still sold at my local electronics store on DVD or BD(?).

    • stevek

      In reply to anderb:

      I see games from all the consoles you mentioned in Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Gamestop, and Amazon. i'm sure more places as well but that's the places I shop. And I can use multiple different payment methods at each of those stores; including Apply Pay where they get a 3% cut.

      So all those consoles allow alternative payment systems.

  4. minke

    Basically this is classic monopolistic practice. When there are only two providers for the entire world, it is a monopoly no different than when Standard Oil or AT&T were monopolies. Apple and Google are exercising the ability to set the price because there is no competition. What does surprise me a bit is that one or the other doesn't unilaterally drop their fees to attract all the gamers. I suspect there is probably collusion as well, but it would be very hard to prove. In an ideal capitalistic world if there are competitors in a market they compete, but in this case neither one wants to start a price war. They both want to keep the price high. Just imagine what would happen if Google right now just said they were lowering the fee to say 15%? Eventually we may see Google and Apple regulated like public utilities, which they really are.

    • cavalier_eternal

      In reply to Minke:

      That isn’t accurate. Both set pricing prior to the market being a duopoly and neither has raised prices. So the argument that that are setting pricing based on the lack of competition is demonstrably false. In the case of Apple they have actually lowered pricing with subscriptions dropping to 15% after the first year. That wasn’t always the case.

  5. paull90

    I agree that 30% is high, but that is the price set by the stores and it is up to the developer to choose if they want to pay it. At the end of the day both Apple and Google created these platforms and invested huge amounts of money in doing so, at no point was any developer forced to move forward with either or both. In fact you could argue that many developers wouldn't even have a business if it wasn't for these platforms. I get that with iOS and to a lesser extent Android have a walled garden but that was there at the beginning and it didn't stop these companies and developer from utilising the platforms, Epic games are not forced into using either but if they want to access the huge player base they have to pay the price. If we live an a free market economy then we can't suddenly decide that the rules should be changed just because some companies are now making huge profits. The only people that can argue against this are people that want a change not just of how iOS and Android work but how the economies of most 1st world countries too.

    • wright_is

      In reply to paull90:
      at no point was any developer forced to move forward with either or both.

      So, how do I install an app on my iPhone, if the developer doesn't offer it in the Apple App Store? I seem to have missed that.

      • paull90

        In reply to wright_is:

        You don't, that's the point.

        The developers choose if they want to offer their apps via the individual apps stores and the users choose if they want to buy the devices. I get that they are intrinsically linked but my point still stands, each developer has to make a decision on whether they want to be on a platform, if enough pull out that could affect how many devices they sell which would probably cause Apple / Google to reduce fees to encourage them back. But the decision on platform costs should always be down to the platform owner.

        • Paul Thurrott

          That's not true. Developers have no choice but to be on these two mobile platforms, which together constitute a duopoly in which Android has the largest marketshare and iOS has the largest app revenues. These are the only "choices" to be on mobile, to reach the several billion users that are in this market, so there are not real choices. They are what is.
  6. burbigo3

    Thanks to y'all for these answers and these explanations !

  7. minke

    In reply to cavalier_eternal:

    It doesn't matter when they set the price--it matters that they can and do set the price. If there was competition they couldn't do it.

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