The living, breathing beast that is the App Store has gone through a ridiculous amount of mutations over the years. As developers get more creative in figuring out tricky ways to elbow a niche for themselves on the App Store, there's been a natural give and take as Apple updates the App Store guidelines for new and exciting developer hijinks.

The last big shake up was stopping developers for offering in-game goodies for installing an app. Veterans of Tiny Tower [Free] likely remember the good ol' days when you could keep a steady stream of bux rolling by downloading whatever random app you got a pop up for. When that whole thing was starting to hit critical mass, Apple put the kibosh on it, and left loads of businesses that'd sprung up around this whole idea in their wake.

screen1136x1136-52Well, it seems they're taking things one step further. A few apps are currently being rejected that reward virtual currency or other bonuses for watching in-game ads and/or doing social sharing sort of things. According to AdExchanger, "So far, the enforcement changes appear to affect a small numbers of apps, including apps represented by AdColony, Vungle and AppLovin."

It's a curious move, as people seem to not mind this method of monetization. Vungle ads, for instance, are often pretty short and developers who use them are often pretty generous with what you get for watching them. This sort of thing is what powers best-game-ever Hodappy Bird [Free] as well as countless other not-quite-so-awesome games. Additionally, asking friends for additional lives (or whatever else) is the cornerstone of a lot of too many free to play games to mention.

This seems to be Apple's next step following what felt like really pushing paid apps during WWDC. Every Apple Design Award went to apps and games with a price tag, and similarly, the upcoming app bundles only work for paid apps. Setting one to free will remove it from the bundle. This could potentially be a great thing for people who depend on traditional advertising models, but I sure wouldn't want to be a business depending solely on incentivized clicks and social shares right now.

  • DannyTheElite

    They are just trying to stop you getting free premium currency. This is not a push towards paid apps. They want you to buy your currency not earn it.

    • Adams Immersive

      They're not cracking down on earning through gameplay.

      Some of those practices are more obnoxious than others, and I think Apple needs to keep evolving these rules. Some OK business models might get "thrown out with the bathwater." But the fact that they are even TRYING to improve certain abuses is a good sign.

      • sticktron

        I wish I could opt-out of the Facebook integration in games.

    • Themostunclean

      That doesn't make much sense considering the amount of "free" premium currency you get out of games for viewing ads is minimal. It's not nearly enough to discourage people from still paying for it.

    • Dueler

      Watching and ad is paying for the content with your time. You get some currency, and the dev gets money for the ad view.
      This sort of ad baiting is banned under Google Adsense so it only makes sense for Apple to emulate a similar stance especially with the EU courts breathing down their necks about creating a marketplace for predatory ad baiting.
      I think it's a good move on apples part, and to be honest I think the real winner is the advertisers as they won't have to pay up 50k a day to shitty flappy birds where people aren't paying attention or gratifying the ads anyway.

      • C. Stubb

        How is limiting methods of advertisement good for advertisers? Having your options restricted would not be a "win" for anyone.

  • coolpepper43

    I bet Apple is going to release their own system for this. How is Apple going to survive if they are not getting a cut?

    • Adams Immersive

      Apple doesn't depend on free-to-play for their income. And they allow non-Apple ads. If they just wanted more free-to-play income, the easy answer would be to block non-iAds.

      I don't see any secret scheme behind this.

      • coolpepper43

        That's what they're moving towards in the end.

      • coolpepper43


  • defunct32

    I wasn't aware Eli has his own game, lol.

    • marcanthony0313

      If you were on this website enough, chances are, you'd know lolol

      • defunct32

        Damn.... I don't hang out too much at TA. D;

  • Based Xatu

    So I'm guessing apple doesn't get paid from these ads?

    • nini

      Why would they, they don't run them.

      • Themostunclean

        Apple gets 30% of all revenue derived from app sales, IAP and advertising. So yes, they do make money off of ads. Also, iAd is the main distribution system for in app ads and it's owned by Apple.

      • WoeOfAftermath

        I don't think Apple gets a 30% cut of all in app advertising. Yes they make money off of iAd but I don't think they get a cut from other ad services like Vungle and such. Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

      • Themostunclean

        Digital media distribution contract stipulates- "Apps may be downloaded for free or for a set cost, and they may include in-app monetization through advertising or purchases. Apple takes 30 percent of all revenue generated through apps, and 70 percent goes to the app publisher."

        Regardless of the ad distribution method, Apple is guaranteed to get a cut of ALL app revenue.

      • WoeOfAftermath

        Thanks, I wasn't aware of that.

      • ChicagoRolls

        Probably goes hand-in-hand with their "All Sales Are Final" App Store policy. A policy that says that as a customer of the App Store, you can be ripped off paying for an App that doesn't work, and Apple can say, "Sorry, all sales are final"

        Hard to believe that people, after learning of this policy, remain App Store customers. SMH.

      • Themostunclean

        I don't know how much experience you actually have with the App Store. I've gotten refunds on several apps for various reasons- not functioning as advertised, major bugs and being pulled off the store. All it took was one email and I got a full refund.

        And BTW almost all digital media has a "sales are final" policy. At least Apple will make exceptions.

      • ChicagoRolls

        So, you are saying that since Apple will sometimes refund for a bad app, that makes it ok for them to one day NOT refund when you buy a bad app?

        Why? Why is it ok to EVER not get refunded for a bad product that you bought from their store?

        I guess you also think it's ok that they let the app developer screen the comments and ratings, giving them the ability to remove negative comments and bad ratings about their crappy app that doesn't work?

      • Themostunclean

        I've never had Apple deny me a refund. From my experience I have no reason to throw a fit like you.

      • Themostunclean

        And as I said, there are "other" digital distribution networks where you will absolutely never receive a refund. All of them have this disclaimer, Apple just rarely enforces it. But hey, if you're gonna whine about it then just stop buying digital media. Have fun with that.

      • ChicagoRolls

        And, along with those refunds you were able to recover, came a warning that "All Sales Are Final" and they may not give you a refund if you get ripped off by another app store app in the future.

      • Themostunclean

        Got, can you read? Or do you just want another excuse to bash Apple? EVERY digital media distribution system issues this disclaimer. Not just Apple. It's a common practice when no physical items are being exchanged but it's rarely enforced.

  • DaFatCookie

    Seeing ads and videos related to ad makes me not want to buy the game the ad was for.

  • RoboWarrior

    This seems like a good thing, hopefully less IAP.

    • Eli Hodapp

      Considering this sort of thing allowed developers to monetize their games in ways other than

      • Psac42

        How about monetizing through charging the right price for a well balanced game?

      • 61050

        common sense was removed from the app store a long time ago dude

  • t3rminus

    "It's a curious move, as people seem to not mind this method of monetization."

    Speak for yourself. I'll quit and uninstall an app if it starts throwing "Watch this video (ad) to gain 17 funbux™" popups in my face. The ads are often for a completely disparate app that uses a similar tactic in a never-ending crap-fest of cross-"promotion".

    Honestly I'll definitely avoid any app (free or paid) if it has more than two kinds of "currencies", and frequently avoid apps with IAP, period.

    This crackdown will be good to lift the App Store out of the cesspool of pay-to-win, freemium (ugh... hate that term), time-restricted crap it's currently inundated with.

    • Eli Hodapp

      I was more speaking for the clear, statistical, overwhelming majority of players out there who are making these games a success by interacting with ads and sharing features. Not myself personally or internet curmudgeon t3rminus.

      • Silvers

        I'd be thankful for a link to a catalogue of these statistics, and measuring the success across various performance standards of games adopting this model. Not just the top grossing ones, but the myriad free games found when, say, searching for Latest Games (All) on the TA app. Glancing through that list once daily suggests that Sturgeon's law is in full effect. I don't know Apple's motivation for this announcement, but one possibility is that currently popular funding models, combined with the app store's visibility and discovery issues, have led to the dismissal of non-featured games as unappealing, or possibly designed with a focus on monetization over user fulfillment. There are many other plausible explanations, but lacking an Apple tell-all, facts and statistics are needed on all sides to distinguish folk theorems and consensus opinion from conclusions consistent with reality.

        If it is true that the overwhelming majority of users are happy with the state of the industry, then what is the answer to the following thought experiment?

        On a random weekday, open the TA app. Go to Latest Games - all. Remove from the list any games in foreign languages or obviously in violation of copyright. Use a random number generator to pick one of the remaining games posted in the last day (or week, or month). If you were then to use the app to create a TA thread for that game, what is the chance that it would be considered appropriate?

        Repeat the experiment, this time excluding games with ad and social policies in violation of the new Apple guidelines. Does the result change? If so, in what direction?

        It might be fun for someone to create a list of games found via this procedure, and poll gamers on the appropriateness of each, then analyze the results... But I expect that would run afoul of forum rules, and have insoluble statistical bias and small sample issues.

  • TheCalm1

    Has the world really grown so greedy as to go and "attack" such simple acts and or actions of a most meager means of generosity? Really Apple?! I feel much compelled to spend my App Store credit (a whopping $17 something) on a most loathsome creation this world has ever suffered. .. IAP.

    Brave Frontier is looking real good right about now.


  • rewind

    The fourth app on the top grossing list uses this mechanism. That game is called Hay Day. I wonder if Apple will stop them from doing this as well. It just seems like a silly thing to restrict, because it's not a bad thing at all. Oh well.

  • rewind

    And they are not pushing paid apps. That would be stupid, paid apps represent less than 10% of their profit. If anything, they should and would be pushing IAPs.

  • falco

    I'm not gona lie I have never downloaded Hodappy bird and the news saga King games.

  • falco

    By the way if most of the games today are made to make the most money possible then the gaming industry is dead!

    • Thawkk

      It's almost like the gaming industry is a business where the goal is to try to make money. Shocking, I know.

  • Sabaki

    What hideous mutation sprouts from the ears of that glitches arrangement of sprites that oddly resembles a character from My Name Is Earl!?

  • BoonyTuesday

    I'm not a fan of ads, so I see this as a good thing.

  • Adan


  • bcredonk

    This is kind of a bummer, I like paid apps as much as the next Internet forum reader but free apps that are good are much easier to stomach when you have a way to earn the paid currencies. Hopefully this won't cut too deep.

  • Psac42

    Don't like IAP, don't like downloading games, watching ads, etc., for in-game content or bonuses. Make a well balanced game and charge a fair amount for it. That's it.

  • Morgan01

    Apple gets a percentage off of every game sold. That is how thye make thier mt

  • Morgan01

    Apple gets a percentage off of every game sold and IAP. It is unclear why they would put a stop on these in-game currencies. The one conclusion that can be drawn is that they are not profiting from it, therefore, they do away with it.

  • ScotDamn

    Is this a sign of what we have been hoping for as hobbyist gamers? Is Apple finally getting behind gaming on iOS? This is glorious news fellow gamers!

    Not only does it sound like Apple is getting ready to push iOS gaming (which they've been strangely distant up to this point) but it seems they might be pushing the premium price model.

    Between this news and all the excellent news concerning the changes iOS 8 will bring from the WWDC (bundles and Metal) - we could be seeing major changes in the right direction sooner than later.

    Color me intrigued. Suspicious and possibly ecstatic, but certainly intrigued.

    • rewind

      No, they would never promote premium games. It wouldn't make any sense at all. I don't know why they're doing this, but it's definitely not to encourage an initial price tag on apps. In fact, I can guarantee you that paid apps will no longer be permitted someday. They'll be a free download, and you pay for content within the app.

      • unexpect3rd

        I actually agree with ScotDamn, it makes more sense for them to push premium games than not. It ensures Apple gets a cut of the sales and indirectly discourages and suppresses free clones that depends on Ad revenues. And should this somehow reverse (unlikely) the "race-to-the-bottom" game prices, all the more Apple would earn from it.

        If developers monetize from incentivized-video-ad-watching, Apple gets 0% from it, and such a model had been getting pretty popular with developers lately, so yea, its no surprise Apple would stop this.

        So it's both a good and a bad thing for everyone (Apple, developers,gamers)

      • C. Stubb

        "I can guarantee you that paid apps will no longer be permitted someday."

        Despite the fact that paid apps provide less than 10% of the App Store revenue, you have still made a ridiculous claim. Up-front cost, though not the most popular model, is still a very functional method of payment. Apple has no reason to completely rid the App Store of the Paid Apps section.

      • rewind

        They have no reason to do that today. But paid apps are on the decline. Once consoles are no longer popular, paid apps will die and everything will be free.

  • nadav bar kama

    2013 winners in the game category :
    Ridiculous Fishing - A Tale of Redemption, Disney Animated, Badland, Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders.

    All paid apps ...

  • 60hz

    Apple has no clue - you smash one insidious technique another will grow. Why? because the ground you lay is full of shit. Discovery is nigh impossible so prices HAVE to drop. Since prices have to drop insidious methods will become common place - devs got to make money somehow.

    Instead of these knee jerk reactions, apple, take a pause and think long term. REGULATE the reward videos, don't just BAN them. it's as if you don't want to do ANY work AT ALL in terms of managing devs on your platform. And then you are surprised when insidious methods arise???