Apple has begun rejecting apps for containing pay-per-install ad offer walls, apparently now considering the tactic of convincing users to download a game in exchange for virtual currency a violation of clause 3.10 of the iOS Developer Agreement. Clause 3.10 states that, “Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.”
“We found that your app, or its metadata, includes features or content that can have an excessive influence in the listing order or ranking on the App Store, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” wrote one rejection from Apple, passed on anonymously to Inside Mobile Apps. “Specifically, your application allows users to download other apps in order to receive in-game currency. Please refer to the attached screenshot for further information. This feature can have an excessive influence in the listing order or ranking on the App Store.”
It is not known what relationship, if any, the pay-per-install crackdown has on the change in app store ranking algorithm that occurred last week. It also remains to be seen what impact a curb on pay-per-install services might have on the freemium apps that often offered app installs as a way of obtaining premium virtual currency. What is clear is that pay-per-install networks probably anticipated some sort of move from Apple to restrict pay-per-install’s influence on App Store rankings. Both Tapjoy and major competitor W3i introduced publishing services in addition to their pay-per-install offerings earlier this year.
As a final note, apps who had their rankings dramatically boosted when the new algorithm was introduced last week appear to be declining now. Gun Bros, which peaked at #32 under the new algorithm, has now declined to #119 on the rankings. The top-ranked apps now are relatively new ones, which seems to indicate that Apple is using an algorithm now that is similar to the one it was using before the change, but probably not exactly the same. Some apps that ranked highly under the old algorithm, like Papaya Farm, are now barely in the Top 300 ranking.
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