May 25, 2012
Google Play just added a new subscription option for in-app payments. While this is something of a catch-up move to the App Store, which has offered in-app subscriptions for the past year, there’s a key difference here in Google’s approach versus Apple’s. See, Google is promoting their subscription with Frontline Commando by Glu, which is obviously a game. However, word from the App Store side of things is that Apple only wants publications to use their subscription API. This is why the new space strategy MMO Empire of the Eclipse requires that their subscriptions just be bought with individual in-app purchases, there’s no recurring billing available.
So, with Frontline Commando being the game that Google is showing off with in-app subscriptions, it’s apparent that they’re going to leave this more open to developers to use how they want. For example, there’s a recurring currency addition subscription added to some Glu games. This means developers can count on some steady sources of income along with in-app purchases.
As well, subscriptions will be extendable outside of Android â€“ an HTTP-based API will allow for subscription content to be accessed through a desktop browser, for example. This does show the difference in Google’s approach versus Apple’s. Apple really wants to try and curate the store to their whims, and they’re willing to leave developers in a lurch by denying them access to a feature that would make sense. MMO games could really use the in-app subscription API. If there’s a concern about abuse or people racking up subscriptions, then Apple could address this, perhaps by prompting a user when their subscription is up if they haven’t loaded an app in some amount of time. As it is, it’s just a silly restriction, and one that Google is willing to be more open with, and even opening up an interesting new avenue for games to be monetized. It also gives Google Play a leg up on the Amazon Appstore for the time being. Support is starting to roll out to devices with Google Play 3.5 and above installed.