New EU regulation strengthens hand of developers and publishers in dealings with storefronts

New EU regulation came into play at the start of the week that applies to digital storefronts, most notably Apple and Google’s for mobile devices. With the new regulations significantly strengthen the rights of those selling through such marketplaces.

The rules, which you can see here in full if you’re happy to fight through them, or as discussed here by the EGDF’s Jari-Pekka Kaleva on GI.Biz, cover a wide range of ongoing issues that developers have with stores.

Platforms will have to provide 30 days notice to publishers before removing content from stores, allowing them time to appeal or make changes to their software. So no immediate and opaque bans (article 4).

The regulations (in article 5) will force stores to be more transparent in how their ranking systems work, letting publishers understand how ‘trending’ apps are being chosen for instance.

Article 7 follows similar themes, with storefronts having to disclose any ‘differentiated treatment’ it may give one seller of goods over another, which should put paid to any real (or imagined) preferential treatment for larger publishers – or at least make it clear to everyone how and when the playing field isn’t even.

Also, that information, and all the information that publishers receive will have to be written in terms that you can understand. With all terms and conditions to be drafted in ‘plain and intelligible language’.

Kaleva notes that the new regulations will not largely impact console stores or subscription services, as these act more like digital retailers than open marketplaces.

“They enter into direct transactional relations with players, and do not fall under the new regulation as ‘online intermediation services’ that facilitate the initiating of direct transactions between developers/publishers and players.”

All of this follows the recent announcement of an EU antitrust probe against Apple, specifically the App Store and Apple Pay, which may further clip the wings of the store and its practices, and which Tim Sweeney threw his support behind recently.

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