Free-to-play mega hit Monster Strike was pulled from the App Store this past weekend for trying to get around Apple’s in-app purchase system.
The app was offline on Saturday the 29th of August from 5:30 pm until around 1 am Sunday morning, costing the Japanese developer an estimated $600,000 in revenue. The Android version was not taken down, and the iOS version is back online as of Sunday.
Japanese mobile consultant expert Serkan Toto writes that the official Monster Strike web page updated with a brief explanation that Apple had found a “serial code input form” inside the iOS game app.
According to Toto, Monster Strike is one of several games (Japanese and otherwise) that use “serial codes” to allow mobile gamers to enter into the app to get currency or special items. They can be purchased on websites and distributed via referrals, making serial codes a way to promote, retain, and acquire new users without using an in-app purchase.
It also cuts out the middle-man, i.e., Apple. Apple has rules you need to follow if you want to put your games and apps on the App Store. One of which says that you can’t sell virtual items (like serial codes) outside of the in-app system Apple has in place:
Apps that unlock or enable additional features or functionality with mechanisms other than the App Store will be rejected.
This allows Apple to retain its 30 percent of revenue from all activity in the App Store, which applies equally to in-app purchases as well as app sales.
Of course, while Mixi lost revenue, so did Apple: the ban on the app was a stern message to the company (as well as to any one else who wants to try this end-run around the App Store policies) about using serial codes.
Toto points out that surely Apple has warned the company before pulling its app completely; other developers with similar systems have been vocal about messages from Apple. This may, however, be the most successful app pulled for such an issue.
Source: Serkan Toto