Ask most people who are in the habit of shopping online and they’ll tell you one of their favorite things about the experience is coupons. Promo codes, vouchers, discount codes – call them whatever you like. The important thing is that they provide shoppers with a welcome price cut, oftentimes without them even expecting it. Now, until early May, Apple’s App Store did not allow for this, but it seems that they have recently added a promo code App Store feature for in-app purchases. This will make it easier for developers to test out and market freemium applications which offer purchases after the download of the app itself.
It’s not that Apple had completely ignored the benefits of promo codes until now. However, before May, it was only offering developers the possibility to apply such codes to the initial purchase of the app. The promo code App Store feature for in-app purchases had been talked about, but not implemented. Not only does this feature make it easier to market games (which often provide paid content in-app), but it will also allow developers to grant their testers access to an app’s full content – both to the paid features and to the free ones of freemium apps.
As of the time this post was written, it remains unclear whether or not all app and game developers have access to the promo code feature for in-app purchases. For one thing, Apple has yet to update the rules on its developer site. They still read “Promo codes don’t work for In-App purchase products, including Newsstand issues.” Yet the rumor is definitely true, even though Apple might be slow to update its official website. To prove it, Jeff Scott of 148apps.com recently Tweeted a screenshot of a promo code for an in-app purchase he used on Real Racing 3, a game from well-known developer EA. The promo code in question offers users a $1.99 discount, which they can only use as 10 gold. You can access the promo code in question
at this link. If you don’t have the game downloaded yet, it will automatically download before the in-app purchase promo code is effectively redeemed.
Are in-app promo code purchases that big a deal?
It depends on whom you ask, really. Since many Apple device users tend to associate them with social gaming of the Farmville variety, they disregard their existence altogether. Although no official data on this issue exists, it’s a well-known fact that some users have simply blocked out all in-app purchase options for all their apps. On the other side of the debate, there are those commenters who see the introduction of this feature as useful, yet would like to see Apple step up its game, when it comes to offering app developers certain facilities.
Several commenters on this piece of news have decried Apple’s decision not to implement public app beta testing. They’re also asking for the ability to run paid upgrades on apps, which they assume would reduce the volume of in-app purchases that app developers offer. Perhaps at some point in the future Apple will allow devs to list their betas on the App Store, together with an ID code which can be put in the same way discount codes can now be applied. These beta apps, with expiry dates, as it were, would make things much easier both on developers, as well as on the consumer, proponents of this idea argue. For the time being, though, it looks like the public at large will only have to do with the implementation of the promo code App Store feature for in-app purchases. It is a step in the right direction, but many seem to believe Apple still has a long way to go until the app buying and upgrading processes become truly seamless.