Microsoft Shakes up Game Developers With Metro
Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 release for PC's is ruffling the feathers of independent developers. The Redmond giant plans to not only take a cut of all sales made through the Microsoft Store but also require Metro apps to be sold exclusively through it.
It appears that Microsoft is taking a page from Apple's playbook by reportedly planning to take a 30% cut of sales through its Microsoft Store with the upcoming Windows 8. However, according to Microsoft when an app reaches $25,000 in sales the percentage would drop to 20.
This is where the supposed controversy springs from with recent statements from Valve's Gabe Newell and Blizzard's Rob Pardo respectively calling the upcoming Windows 8 "A catastrophe"" and "Not awesome for Blizzard either."
Discomfort among the gaming bigwigs may concern Microsoft's closed platform of the Windows Store (reminiscent of Apple's) forcing higher prices or cuts into profit margins for developers who choose to sell via the channel.
Microsoft isn't placing any restrictions on Windows 8 for products obtained through non-Microsoft channels, however. That leaves developers free to develop outside of the Metro interface and bypass the Microsoft Store. That might relegate them to a "perceived" lesser Windows 8 experience but not close it off to them. With Metro the centerpiece of the new OS, apps that don't use the channel have limited access to the new UI.
In testing on Windows 8 Release Preview there were no major issues with Valve's Steam or EA's Origin clients. Both operate independent of the Metro interface as desktop applications and in Origin's case created a shortcut tile in Metro that opened on the desktop.
Considering the price premiums demanded by publishers like Valve and Activision Blizzard for titles of arguable quality it's no surprise that Microsoft would want a piece of the action if they develop for Metro. With new gaming revenue models based on in-game purchases and add-on DLC to pad revenue, the potential windfall for Microsoft could be quite large.
Rumblings from independent developers may be an attempt to sow the seeds of a new anti-trust complaint against Microsoft because of the closed nature of Metro applications.
Still, so long as the desktop exists in new versions of Windows, Microsoft can avoid the anti-trust arguments of the past just as apple has done on the Mac platform. Should future versions of Windows remove the alternatives to its own marketplace, however, it's likely the question will again be raised.