App Store and Digital Goods explainer - the spikes on the wall around the garden
Shared by AndyDent-Touchgram · 11d ago · 1 comment

I've been in a long and interesting thread based on last weeks' review, clarifying the Touchgram digital store sales model.

I thought my latest response might be of more general interest here as many people don't understand just how harsh the Apple model is. Section refs here from the official App Store policies link above:

If you sell any kind of digital good, you’re going to have to use IAP.

3.11 In-App Purchase: If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, (by way of example: subscriptions, in-game currencies, game levels, access to premium content, or unlocking a full version), you must use in-app purchase. Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality markers, QR codes, etc. Apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.

Gift cards, certificates, vouchers, and coupons which can be redeemed for digital goods or services can only be sold in your app using in-app purchase

(Andy note - the language above is explicitly can only be sold. So if you want to give away tokens as part of an incentive scheme, pretty certain that is OK.)

3.1.3 Other Purchase Methods: The following apps (Readers, multi-platform service access etc.) may use purchase methods other than in-app purchase. Apps in this section cannot, either within the app or through communications sent to points of contact obtained from account registration within the app (like email or text), encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase.

This is tougher than it sounds - Evernote ran into this. You can not even include a non-tappable URL if that goes to a page which can be used to navigate to your purchasing page. At the worst, I saw apps that used Evernote login fall into this trap - third parties with no payment mechanism had their apps refused because an OAuth screen mentioned the Evernote URL and that eventually led to payments.

The Background and Touchgram Model

Touchgram's a very deep platform exposed as a messaging app for creating interactive messages.

It has a highly extensible core and is built on top of Apple's standard 2D gaming engine. I'm targeting a mixer/maker creative culture as well as hoping to go more mainstream in the greeting card space.

The store that’s being rolled out will allow people to download free content or purchase digital goods in various categories, broadly separated into

* Components:
* Images of art, including small icons
* sounds
* Visual effects

* Templates you can customise, which include a simple way to just edit the stuff that needs customising, effectively being different types. These are visible at the top level of the app as a visual browser to make it easy to create new messages:
* Memes
* Greeting cards
* More complex rich experiences, like Choose-your-own-adventure games in serialised form.

One interesting implication of the two-level model is that sales of templates may involve sales of lower-level art, with two or more different artists earning from the template sale.

andrew-miit.co · 11d ago

Thanks for this Andy. This will be a problem for us too so the explainer is much appreciated.