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Apple introduces pre-orders to App Store

Developers will now be able to sell mobile games to iOS users up to three months before launch

The iOS App Store now offers the ability for games makers to sell pre-orders for their upcoming titles.

Apple has announced a new pre-order system is now live for its leading mobile marketplace, allowing customers to learn more about upcoming products and order the app before they are released.

If the game is free-to-play, it will automatically be downloaded to the customer's smart device upon launch. If it is a premium title, Apple says "customers will be charged before download" - presumably when they make the pre-order.

Customers will also receive a notification that their chosen app is now available. Apple has experimented with this previously, most notably enabling users to register for notifications ahead of Super Mario Run's launch.

The mobile giant has posted instructions on how developers can ready their games for pre-order via the iTunes Partner website. The planned launch dates must be at least two days after studios submit their app, and can't be more than 90 days ahead of release.

Once submitted, developers will be able to update the version of the game or change the pricing and region availability during the pre-order period. If the price is changed, users will be charged whichever price point is lower.

Studios will also be able to set up in-app purchases ahead of time, although promoted in-app purchases will not appear on the product page until the game has launched.

It's a useful system for iOS developers, given the fast-paced world of mobile games and the sheer volume of titles released for the App Store. While some games managed to get decent coverage ahead of launch in the traditional games media and may pique the interest of a sizeable audience, the fact that iOS launches lack the pomp and circumstance console titles receive means they are in danger of being missed or forgotten.

It's the latest example of Apple revamping the App Store in a way that particularly benefits games. Earlier this year, it redesigned the games section to better promote acclaimed titles and offer more editorial insight into both the games and their creators.

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James Batchelor avatar
James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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