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Apple stamps down on app incentivisation; starts rejecting games using per install model

Apple stamps down on app incentivisation; starts rejecting games using per install model
According to well placed developer sources, Apple is clamping down hard on incentivisation schemes that offer users in-game credits for downloading apps.

The news follows yesterday's speculation that Apple has been tweaking its iTunes chart algorithms to favour user activity with apps and games over pure downloads.

PocketGamer.biz has learned that several games, some of them high profile and previously available on the App Store, have been rejected when updates were submitted, with the reason given that they offer virtual currency in exchange for downloads apps.

The biggest casualty so far appears to GetSetGame's Mega Jump, which has been download over 13.5 million times on iOS. It had been pulled from the App Store by the developer for an emergency bug fix, which has since been rejected, meaning the game is currently unavailable. 

The wording that developers have received from Apple was the same in each case, demonstrating this doesn't seem to be an isolated issue, but a wholesale change being applied to the iOS ecosystem.

Changing the rules

Download incentivisation is a business model that has grown more important over the past six months on the App Store, especially for freemium titles, which can otherwise struggle to gain exposure in a very competitive marketplace.

It enables developers and publishers to pay mediators such as TapJoy, Adknowledge and Flurry to get users to download their apps as they are rewarded with virtual currency in games they are already playing.

The vast majority of the freemium industry use it, but, for example, in Glu Mobile's Big Time Gangsta, you can earn 7 Creds for downloading Pocket Gems' free Tap Zoo or 61 Creds for GameDuell's $4.99 Cleopatra's Pyramid. Within Big Time Gangsta, 65 Creds would otherwise cost $9.99.

Feel the wrath

Glu Mobile uses Tapjoy, which is the biggest player in the market, and claims to incentivise 1.5 million downloads daily, mainly on iOS, in a business that generates $35 million of revenue monthly.

Clearly, if confirmed across the App Store, this is a massive move from Apple that will annoy large parts of the developer community, not to mention incentivisation companies.

However, as previously demonstrated with user privacy and concerns over in-app purchases, Apple has a history of making far reaching decisions without consultation.
editor-at-large

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.

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