In-app purchase promo codes! Apple finally adapts to the free-to-play trend

by Patrick Pierra

May 15 2014

For the first time, Apple allows an app publisher to offer promo codes for in-app purchases.

While iOS app publishers have long been able to issue promo codes for paid apps, they had no way to offer any in-app paid upgrade for free to any user.

This gradually became a major hurdle, as the reluctance from many users to pay upfront for apps has driven the market to a freemium - often called “free-to-play”- dominant model.

Apple has now opened the door to in-app promo codes. Game journalist Jeff Scott spotted earlier today a promotion by EA for the Real Racing 3 game which offers users a code allowing them to get 10 “gold” in the game.

This in-game upgrade a $1.99 value. The promotion, only available in the US, is active until Aug. 1.

It’s not clear yet if this is a test by Apple, or if in-app promo codes will soon be available to all iOS app publishers.

These codes would be very useful for promotional operations but also to allow app reviewers to experience the full version of the apps they are supposed to review. As the organizer of the Tabby Awards competition, TabTimes suffered from the lack of in-app promo codes when assigning free-to-play app to judges.

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