GOOGLE HAS LAUNCHED a new loyalty programme for games bought from the Google Play Store which will allow developers to award users with in-app purchases in exchange for watching adverts.
'Rewarded Products' provides a simpler way for developers to offer perks like in-game content or currency in exchange for watching a video (it uses the catch-all term 'monetisable action" but it really means 'advert').
Third-party solutions already offer this functionality, as anyone who has played Words With Friends will be familiar with.
The difference is that Google is trying to create a joined-up standard for the practice, backed by the reputation (ahem) of the Google Play Store.
Google claims that this "gives users more choice in how they experience the app or game, and has been an effective way to monetize non-paying users."
The 'Rewarded Products' feature is available now, but it's still in beta, which is worth bearing in mind. Developers can access it through the Google Play Billing Library or AIDL interface. There's no SDK - just a few calls to APIs.
At launch, the only option will be for full-screen adverts powered by AdMob, the mobile advertising company which Google bought in 2009 for a cool $750m.
Once it's all up and running, Google expects to add other options to trigger rewards, though it hasn't really detailed what this might be.
Google wins because it gets more chance of revenue from these monetisable adverts. The developer wins because they gain an easy to roll out income stream. The end user wins because they get a chance to get further into a game they love, without parting with any cash.
With so many bad news stories about kids who have run up huge bills through in-app purchases, this could be part of the solution.
Alternatively, the move could be seen as a cynical cash cow for Google, but even if that's the case, if you were Google, wouldn't you? μ
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