I.e. sold on some website some game developer made, and NOT sold on Apple Store or Microsoft Store.

2) Also, for any game made and sold for their platform, does Apple or Microsoft look at the game/app content, and decide whether they want that game/app to exist for their platform or not? Again, this for the case of where the game/app is NOT sold on the Apple Store or Microsoft Store.

3) same questions, but for game consoles? e.g. Nintendo, Sony, etc.

EDITED: I ask because... well... sometimes I wonder if a certain game has content which is too inappropriate. So I'm wondering ... what companies looked at these games and said they were okay when maybe they should've said no.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So you think that Microsoft has a say in every game made that can be installed on Windows? \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Apr 10 '18 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexandreVaillancourt it's trivial, yet interesting question. What exactly allows PlayStation to control its market in a way it does, unlike Windows or e.g. Intel. \$\endgroup\$ – Kromster Apr 10 '18 at 7:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kromster You're right, I'm just surrprised that this question came up! \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Apr 10 '18 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ If Microsoft had a say in what software can run on Windows, there would be no virus, and this world would be a jolly place! \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Apr 10 '18 at 18:43

No, Microsoft of Apple generally do not take royalties from software just because it runs on their desktop operating systems. They only take royalties if they are distributed through their own distribution channels.

They also do not do any quality control or censorship for such software. Creating a program which runs on Windows or macOS is trivial. There are plenty of free and paid software development tools around to do that. If you use Visual Studio Community Edition to create a microsoft_sucks.exe, you can upload it to the Internet and any Windows user can download and run it without Microsoft's approval. However, if the software does something harmful, then it might end up getting classified as malware by Windows Defender. Any Windows user with Windows Defender enabled will then get a big, red warning when they try to run it. But they can choose to ignore that warning if they want to.

Game consoles, however, are traditionally walled gardens. The manufacturers of almost all game consoles take special precautions to prevent their consoles from running any software not approved by them. This is part of their business model. Game consoles are usually sold at prices below their manufacturing cost. The manufacturers make their profit from royalties on any games sold for their consoles. Console games usually also have to pass the manufacturers quality control and content guidelines. That's why you see no explicitly pornographic games on most game consoles, while it is a flourishing niche market for PC.

The reason for this cultural divide between desktop computers and game consoles is that while game consoles are usually used "just" for gaming, desktop computers are used in a far more versatile manner. People want to run all kinds of applications on them, some of them extremely specialized and obscure. In fact the majority of software development which happens around the world is to create software intended for just one organization, or even just for one specific computer doing one very specific task. Microsoft can not curate all these different applications, nor would they want to.

So they allow anyone to develop, distribute and run any software they want. The only limitation to the software you are allowed to release are your local laws.


Apple and Microsoft only have licensees for their closed ecosystems. For Microsoft, that's the windows store and the Xbox platforms. For Apple, that's just iOS (as far as I know).

Consider Steam, itco.io, GOG, Desura, and the like. These are sales platforms that run on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. If Valve, CD PROJEKT RED and others had to pay to put their shops on Windows, and then also pay Microsoft for putting the games it sells onto Windows too, then that would be quite an accounting nightmare. This is also why there is no Steam on PlayStation, or Xbox.

The only case I know of where an app has been able to provide its own software from inside a closed ecosystem has been the success of the Amazon app store inside Google's platform.

As to Quality control, it varies massively.

Consoles such as PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo devices, have very strict guidelines, and go through an official process to be approved to go in their stores.

Apple has a much more lenient process for the App Store. The same seems to go for Steam, and other Desktop PC store fronts.

Android is pretty much "check for viruses and other dodgy stuff and publish."

Publishing a game without a middleman or vendor gives you the freedom to decide for yourself, and can often still lead to good quality software (for example, Adobe doesn't go through a certification process, but no-one is going to say their software is half finished and untested).

As to costs and the publisher cuts, some of that stuff is corporate secret, so not safe to divulge, but there's a lot of public knowledge that states numbers around 30% cut on the secretive platforms.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. 30%? for some reason, I thought it was lower. But maybe I'm thinking of... companies that handle money things... \$\endgroup\$ – sdhy Apr 11 '18 at 1:18

As far as I know, any game that is made for any platform but is sold on a "random" website (or one owned by you) has no relation to Microsoft or Apple (pay-wise). In theory they earn money because more games for a platform means more sales for that platform. They can only claim money if you decide to upload in their app-stores.

Also, considering that you supply only binaries, there's not much for any company to "look at". There are tools that can check binaries for malicious activities, but that's pretty much as far as it goes.

Note that this is different when you want to publish a game on a marketplace (Google Play or Apple's App Store etc). I know that for Google Play, you upload your game, and Google runs some automatic check on it to make sure it doesn't do anything harmful. After 2-3 days your app gets approved and published online. I've heard Apple does something very similar, but there is some human-interaction involved, to ensure higher quality (although I could be wrong).

Although I have no experience with developing on game consoles, I assume it's a similar thing. If you create a game and upload it on your personal website, nobody bothers you, if you want to publish it on Xbox live or Nintendo's store, you probably have to be approved.

In the end, if you make a game that is "mediocre" quality but you want to see it live, don't hesitate to upload it. Worst case scenario it gets rejected, and you can work to improve yourself.

If however you are asking because your game has content which you are not sure is legal to publish (gambling or nudity etc) then each store has its own rules to deal with such content.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I didn't mean my game. I edited my q, if that matters. \$\endgroup\$ – sdhy Apr 11 '18 at 1:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sdhy In reply to your edit, the only restriction when making a game and publishing it online is the laws of the country. For example, obviously, CP would be out of the question. Apart from that, anyone can make everything and sell it for either Microsoft or Apple platforms. \$\endgroup\$ – TomTsagk Apr 11 '18 at 7:48

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