Apple promotion ban hurts Tapjoy

End of "pay per install" promotions leads to revenue drops on iOS

Middleware company Tapjoy has complained that Apple's ban of "pay per install" promotions is adversely affecting its business and that of a majority of iOS developers.

Despite talks between Tapjoy and Apple the ban was put in place over concerns that developers were paying Tapjoy, via its propriety monetisation platform, to boost their game's ranking in the list of top 25 apps.

With a pay per install app a user is incentivised, usually with the promise of in-game currency, to install another unrelated app. The developer then shares the revenue with the original app that promoted the use.

Tapjoy's argument, that incentivised promotions are commonplace and that they allow developers to create a more stable and predictable business, were not accepted by Apple.

According to website VentureBeat, an attempt by Tapjoy CEO Mihir Shah to institute a compromise, where a cap prevented developers from unfairly breaking into the top 25, was rejected by Apple.

Publisher Glu Mobile has also voiced concerns that its business model could be severely affected, with eight times more developers reporting a decrease in usage following the policy change than those that experienced an increase. This ratio increased to 15 to 1 in terms of revenue declines.

A Tapjoy survey of developers also showed that almost half had begun to receive large numbers of complaints from customers at the sudden inability to earn in-game currency from installing other apps.

The ban of promotions is part of Apple's ongoing attempt to improve the fairness of app rankings. Although actions such as the re-weighting of chart algorithms have generally occurred without comment or explanation.

A dependence on a single format has also caused problems with other casual developers, with Applifier admitting that an over reliance on Facebook has caused problems, while even Zynga has been criticised for not expanding beyond its primary platform.

Related stories

Tapjoy acquires 5Rocks

Korean firm's analytics tech will be integrated into Tapjoy's SDK

By Matthew Handrahan

Tapjoy hires Geeknet Media vet as CPO

Jeff Drobick joins Tapjoy to refocus product roadmap

By Mike Williams

Latest comments (12)

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship6 years ago
I'd be very nervous running any business that relied on the good will of a single platform holder.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
The Gods of Apple are jealous gods
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Gary Lucero QA Analyst, Advanced 6 years ago
I'm not a game developer but as a user I see this as a positive move by Apple. I for one hate the concept of being effectively forced to install another app just to get in-game currency. As a gamer you feel compelled to do it but at the same time you know that it's just a ploy to get you to try something you might not have otherwise.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (12)
Those with such a "business model" aren't to prosper. In a "wannabe fair" market such practices should be discouraged - agreed with Apple.
The only problem is... they should have warned them well before today. IMHO, Apple should be more careful right from the beginning wrt such third-parties. Maybe testing a feature on the AppStore together with the third-party, with the latter knowing right from the start that the feature might be rejected after the testing period ?

Going for the "do your business... I'll do mine" might lead to a number of useless, random suits from angry third-parties at any Apple decision/ban in the future. While the "I warned you/I told you" model might work better in these cases.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Yannick Boucher Project Manager, Crytek6 years ago
+1 to Nick.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Doug Kennedy President, Reverb Communications6 years ago
Apple could care less about the developers, and even less about middleware companies. If Apple truly cared about the development community they would have put a stop gap in place to stop app pricing from free falling to .99, or to free. It’s not about selling apps for Apple it’s about selling hardware and the more free apps in the Apple library the more phones and tablets they will sell.

It won't be long before developers are running from iOS simply because they can't support themselves.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Doug McFarlane Co-Owner, KodeSource6 years ago
Would it possible to generate a unique encrypted code from the 2nd game (using perhaps the device id?) that could be entered into the original game to prove you bought/installed the 2nd game?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Doug McFarlane on 1st June 2011 5:54pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Geoffroy de Nanteuil Business Development, Sales & Marketing Strategy - Gaming Industry 6 years ago
IMO, beside from monetization, there is a real need for effective promotion tools, and CPI was an effective one. Apple's ban of CPI promo is penalizing the developers while at the same time does not provide an alternative to the promotion need.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
There are still more apps being bough on iOS devices than any other OS.
Andriod is last place, even symbian OS users buy more apps than android users.

There is a clear advantage to being on the Apple marketplace as there are many many users willing to buy.
The problem is not removal of this middleware, its the way it was being used and the nature of people boosting a apps rating to get more sales.

Make a good app and it will sell, make a crap one and you might as well give it away for free as it people wont buy it anyway.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Perhaps - that wouldn't change a thing... the user bought/installed the second game in order to obtain the code and thus a reward in the first one. The point is: is it right to merchandise "app installation", and consequently improve app ranking on the AppStore ? Apple says it's not.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
CPI was effective but that doesn't mean it was "ethic" nor "fair". I'd agree Apple doesn't still provide a system as effective as CPI but I'd argument that you can't probably find a "fair" system that is as effective as "cheating". CPI was the "less cheating" version of the "pay a bunch of people in some asian country and have them install your freemium app thousands of times" - a so called "marketing service".
I hope you'd agree that we all want to get rid of the equation "business == cheating".
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
As the CEO of a new developer i see this move by Apple as a very good one. Bigger companies with big budgets to spend makes it impossible for new companies to get high on the top lists, and that is even if they make better games.

Triolith Entertainment AB

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Magnus Söderberg on 1st June 2011 6:56pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.