What Does In-App Purchase Mean?
An in-app purchase is a piece of content or feature that is purchased inside of the app instead of through the app store. This can be as simple as buying an electronic book to something complex like unlocking additional features in an app to something ongoing.
While in-app purchases are made inside of the app, the app store still controls the purchase, including the billing. And on the iPhone and iPad, you can also turn off in-app purchases, which is great for parents.
However, in-app purchases cannot be shared across family libraries. This includes both Apple’s Family Sharing program and Google Play’s Family Library. This is especially important when trying to decide between a free app with an in-app purchase to unlock ‘premium’ features and the ‘pro’ app with those features already unlocked. If you participate in family sharing, it’s often best to buy the ‘pro’ app rather than make the in-app purchase in the free app. (Remember, you can still download the free app to see if it fits your needs!)
What are the Different Types of In-App Purchases?
We’ve seen a proliferation of apps built on in-app purchases over the past few years. In fact, the gaming industry has been going through major changes as in-app purchases invade almost all areas of the industry, and while in-app purchases have always gone hand-in-hand with free apps and games, they are now quite popular in all apps, including those you have to pay to download.
So what are the different types of in-app purchases?
In-app purchases that unlock content or features are considered permanent, which means once you buy them you don’t need to buy them again. These “unlockables” can include content, such as an eBook or an expansion to a game, or features, such as the ability to print in a word processor.
This mainly applies to free-to-play games, which (despite the name) aren’t always so free. The free-to-play model establishes an “in-game” currency such as gold coins or magic potions that can be used to unlock features or extend playtime. Most of these games allow you to accrue this currency by playing the game, but the rate at which it is acquired can be very slow. This leads to players buying the in-app currency so they don’t have to wait. This is only one type of expendable, but it is by far the most popular.
As you might surmise, subscriptions go beyond just magazines and premium cable stations. Apple and Google have opened up in-app subscriptions to developers at large, so we are seeing more apps that offer subscription services to use the app or to use advanced features in the app.
This kind of product can be purchased multiple times, and not just once. For example, in a game a consumable product can be a number of extra lives for the main hero. Consumable products unlock app features just for a small period of time, and they don’t have permanent effect.
This category is the exact opposite to the previous one, and as you understand the purchase of a non-consumable product is made just once. For example, buying extra fonts for a text-editing app must be done just one time, and the extra fonts must be available from there on and forever.
- Renewable Subscriptions
You can guess based on its name what this product kind is for. With this, the purchase must be renewed from time to time (the interval can be specified in the iTunes Connect), and it’s suitable in cases you sell a service that requires a subscription.
- Non-Renewable Subscriptions
On the contrary to the previous case, a non-renewable subscription lasts one time only and expires. It’s useful in cases the provided service doesn’t require a new subscription, and it’s going to end after a period of time.