Google has announced that it will no longer be possible for developers of Chrome extensions to charge for their creations. The change comes as part of an overhaul of the Chrome Web Store which sees the payment system being deprecated.
While the change seems like a dramatic change of heart by Google, it is actually an extension of a change that was introduced earlier in the year. Back in March, in a bid to clamp down on fraudulent extensions, the company suspended the ability to submit new paid-for extensions. The new announcement means that the option will never return.
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Initially, neither developers nor Chrome users will notice much of a difference. With paid extensions and in-app purchases having already been disabled for six months, Google says that "this change, in effect since March 2020, is now permanent".
Come December, Google is disabling the free trial option for extensions, meaning that the Try Now button will no longer be shown in the Chrome Web Store. Developers who already have purchase options configured will be able to make money in this way until the beginning of February next year, but after this time existing items and in-app purchases can no longer charge money with Chrome Web Store payments.
The change does not mean, however, that developers will not be able to make money through their extensions. Although it will soon no longer be possible to charge for the extension itself, Google says that developers will be able to migrate to a different payment processor and licensing API if they would like to continue to monetize their work.
Google says that at some point in the future – although the company does not specify when, other than indicating it will be some time after February 2021 – the Chrome Web Store licensing API will no longer be available to check the license status of extension users .
Developers are advised to rollout a replacement payment and licensing system, migrate to a new subscription system using OAuth 2.0 authentication, and finally publish an update version of their extensions. With paid-for extensions currently being relatively rare, it remains to be seen whether Google's changes will kill off the idea completely, or lead to a resurgence.
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