Apple cracks down on apps which reward players for ad views and shares

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The App Store is constantly evolving as both Apple and individual developers struggle to get the most out of the experience as possible. The latest change in this vein appears to involve App Store moderators cracking down on apps which incentivize or reward users for enaging in a range of activities — many related to advertising.

For an example of what we mean, consider a game which gives users more lives when they die in exchange for sharing to Facebook. Several mobile apps have recently been rejected for using these techniques, alongside offering virtual currency or additional game play for asking viewers to watch video “app trailers.”

Considering that companies like Candy Crush Saga publisher King.com and Supercell games are constantly looking for ways to drive new installs in a highly competitive market, this decision on Apple’s part could have major ramifications.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone’s happy about it. “Users really like these offers because they get to play more games,” said one anonymous developer working in this space. “Developers like them because they generate more money. Advertisers like them because they offer new ways to get app installs.”

Apple, however, is more focused on promoting paid apps and pushing app discovery and search over the “Top Charts” lists which have historically been central to app distribution strategies. At WWDC, every Apple Design Award handed out went to apps and games with a price tag, while upcoming app bundles only work for paid apps.

Whether this strategy stays in place remains to be seen. If it does mean a push toward paid apps over freemium ones, however, hopefully this will cut down on games which demand ridiculous amounts of in-app purchases — leading to a better user experience for the player.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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