Comment & Opinion

Practical steps for getting your ops and apps DMA ready

Worldline’s director of video gaming and media, Jonas Martins shares advice on how to embrace the Digital Markets Act now that it’s finally here

Practical steps for getting your ops and apps DMA ready

As of March 7, the Digital Markets Act has come into force across the EU. Although it may take some time for the industry to fully adapt to these market changes, we are already seeing Google and Apple open their doors and step into line

So, what do developers and publishers need to know about the DMA, and how can they benefit from the change? In this guest post, Worldline’s Director of Video Gaming and Media, Jonas Martins, outlines the key steps to get your studio DMA ready.

Many developers are concerned about how they'll navigate this new legal framework. While it may be an intimidatingly complex piece of legislation, its key benefits and how they apply to developers and publishers can easily be broken down.

We're seeing changes to a huge swathe of the mobile world and are only just beginning to get a sense of what they mean for the wider market. Changes to player choice for payment, data handling, side-loading, third-party web, app stores, and more are all predicted and, in some cases, already taking place.

What's changing?

In short, platform holders now need to allow third-party payment providers, steering to off-platform web stores, third-party storefronts on their platform and the direct sideloading of apps. This allows developers and publishers much greater control over how people pay and interact with their apps, whether that be providing new payment options, steering to outside web stores, or even putting their games on third-party storefronts.

It's now possible and preferable for developers to pursue opening their own storefronts.
Jonas Martins

1. No more anti-steering policies

The changes that prohibit anti-steering policies are especially significant. This prevents platform holders from actively preventing or punishing developers who 'steer' players to alternative payment options, storefronts, and more. Remember, there was not much necessarily stopping the actual technical implementation, but now it's actually feasible to do so while remaining compliant with each app store.

2. Greater control for developers

The change to sideloading means that platforms that have previously restricted this practice -such as iOS - must now allow users to download applications without having to do so through their own app store. This opens up not just third-party storefronts but also makes games directly available to players via your own website or other outlets.

Given that, on storefronts such as the iOS App Store, platform holders still levy a roughly 27% charge on any transactions made via outside links, it's now possible and preferable for developers to pursue opening their own storefronts. Or, at the very least, exploring options for steering users with alternative methods aside from said (levied) links. This can offer both you and your players greater savings than simply using normal in-app purchases.

3. Localised payment options for a better user experience

Finally, the opportunity to use localised payments may seem insignificant compared to these other changes, but in reality, this is a huge step. While payment options such as Google or Apple Pay may be widely utilised in the UK, many European geographies have alternative preferred payment options. Previously implementing them was virtually impossible, but now you can work to the preferences of your users if not opening up whole new revenue streams as well.

Key considerations

But even with all these benefits, changes won't happen overnight. And it's highly likely there will be unforeseen consequences in how it's implemented by developers and platform holders. So with that in mind, what should your key considerations for adapting to the Digital Markets Act be? Well, to start…

  • The Digital Markets act is EU-specific and most important changes are taking place with companies operating in this region. We've already seen companies like Epic Games taking advantage of the latter, opening their own storefront via subsidiary Epic Games Sweden in order to take advantage of the new EU laws.
  • Explore the accessibility of different options and what you can do to make it easy for players to understand what's being offered to them.
  • Work with third-party payment providers, even if only to understand your options and whether or not pursuing these new changes is right for you.
  • Look at the benefits of other changes; will side-loading be more profitable or accessible? Should you consider bringing your game to a third-party app store?
  • Consider different payment options. These simply allow you to integrate alternative options outside of the defaults offered by the platform holder with minimal further changes.
  • Applying new payment options is not a zero-sum game. You aren't "breaking free" of a platform with all the good and bad that entails; rather, you now have the option to accompany established options like Google Pay with third-party alternatives.
The Digital Markets Act presents the new paradigm that many third-party payment providers have been encouraging for years.
Jonas Martins

Working with third-party payment suppliers

Many third-party payment providers can also offer their expertise in understanding and continual updates on the effect that legislation like DMA can have on alternative revenue streams. These providers can, naturally, also help implement these changes and provide long-term support for developers and publishers alike.

It should also be noted that many platform holders will flag a security risk when users tap on third-party links for payment providers. Make sure users understand you've done your due diligence (an aspect that providers can help with) and what the benefits and other considerations are.

Remember, platform holders don't necessarily offer the most secure means of payment despite flagging up the risks of other options. By working with specialist payment companies like Worldline, who offer equally, if not more, secure options, you can offer your players greater flexibility and dependability in how they pay.

Third-party providers can help you provide a fully customised checkout experience for your players and integrate them in any number of ways. You can either choose to hand over the entire process to said provider or perform part of it yourself, with many, like Worldline, offering a great deal of flexibility in how you apply new payment options.

Being open and transparent ensures that these players will be confident in taking advantage of these new payment options, which will, in turn, benefit you and allow you to draw on whole new streams of revenue.

The Digital Markets Act presents the new paradigm that many third-party payment providers have been encouraging for years. The opportunities presented are clear - higher revenue, greater player freedom in how they pay and less restrictive platforms - but implementation by platform holders is not going to be immediate.

Exploring your options, examining where your audience is situated and deciding how and when is best to implement changes will be key to capitalising on the changes put forward by the Digital Markets Act.

Edited by Paige Cook regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.