Did Apple Just Kill Incentivized Video Ads Again? Nobody’s Sure!

Apple made some changes to the App Store Review guidelines, and a modified portion of section 3.2.2, talking about unacceptable business models for apps. And a particular change to the wording has developers worried about whether or not Apple just killed incentivized video ads. Consider the text of 3.2.2 (vi), which says (emphasis added):

Apps should allow a user to get what they’ve paid for without performing additional tasks, such as posting on social media, uploading contacts, checking in to the app a certain number of times, etc. Apps should not require users to rate the app, review the app, watch videos, download other apps, tap on advertisements, or take other similar actions in order to access functionality, content, use the app, or receive monetary or other compensation.

Now take a look at what it said before, as shown by, a site that is exactly what it says on the tin (new text in green, removed text in red):

The problem is that there are several ways to interpret this. The worst reading is that incentivized ad rewards are now verboten. Apple’s done it before back in 2014 before changing course. The thing is that incentivized video ads now are a huge business model for developers, especially smaller shops, that banning them would be a deathblow. That, and apps that Apple loves like Crossy Road (Free) have made it a major part of their business. It seems crazy that Apple would kill off a major revenue model in one fell swoop with a single line…but it is Apple.

Now, the thing is that there are more benign interpretations. One could interpret this rule as making it so that a character unlock in a game can’t be done by forcing people to watch an ad or post to Facebook, that there has to be an alternative option. The problem is that the wording is very unclear, and the collective response of industry people I asked for their thoughts on this can be summed up as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – nobody knows, and until Apple clarifies or starts striking down apps for violating the rule, things could get really interesting. And if this is an incentivized video ban, this could have a colossal effect on the mobile advertising industry. Or it isn’t, and it’s just trying to make apps a little more user-friendly! Or maybe not! We’re all confused!

Hat tip to Jeff “Papa Bear" Scott for pointing this out!