A few years ago, developers offered free coins, gems, or other goodies in exchange for downloading and opening an app from within the game you were playing. Apple put an end to that, stating that it was falsely pushing apps to the top of the “Most Popular” list. Now, it appears that Apple may be trying to exert even more control over app promotion through a new clause in user Terms and Conditions.
As discovered by PocketGamer, Apple snuck in a new clause, 2.25, that gives the tech giant carte blanche over developer’s in-app promotion.
“Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.”
While the wording is vague, it is probably intentionally so. By using such broad terminology, Apple can accuse any app of violating this clause. “In a manner similar to or confusing with,” leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Currently, there are a handful of apps on the market that rely on in-app promotions to stay in business. Some games will still offer swag in exchange for things like watching trailers for other apps. TapJoy offers this service for a large number of “freemium” apps. Others, like FreeAppADay, AppShopper, and AppGratis were specifically created to promote apps.
According to PocketGamer, word on the street is that Apple is on the hunt to stop app promotion.
“Nonetheless, it’s already accepted within the iOS development community that Apple is actively seeking to restrict the influence of all such promotional tools in order to maintain the legitimacy of the App Store charts – themselves reportedly altered during the iOS 6 update to reflect app engagement over pure downloads.”
At this time, it does not appear that any action has been taken against developers who participate in in-app promotion. However, it is possible that Apple will only take an active role once apps are sent in for approval of updates.