Google Play Store adds support for Android app promo codes

Promo codes have long been available for iOS users and now Android developers can create them through the Google Play Store, but there are some limitations.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

Google Android users are finally getting something Apple has long offered: 9to5 Google notes that Google has added redeemable promo code support for apps and games.

Developers, as well as Android device owners, will be happy to hear that but the new system is a bit limited, per the official support documentation.

Only 500 promo codes per app can be issued by developers in a given quarter, for example. And any quantity of unused codes don't roll over to the next quarter.

By default, promo codes are valid for a one year although developers can customize the expiration date if they choose to do so.

For its part, Google offers some suggestions on how developers may want to use such promo codes to "creatively engage" with users:

  • A game could have a special item, such as a character or decoration, that's only available to players who attend an event. The developer could distribute cards with promo codes at the event, and users would enter their promo code to unlock the item.
  • An app developer might distribute promo codes at local businesses, to encourage potential users to try the app.
  • An app developer might give out "friends and family" codes to its employees to share with their friends."

I'm not sure why Google took so long to allow for application promo codes.

The company does make money on all paid apps through the Play Store so the implementation of free promos could negatively impact revenues but I wouldn't think it would be a relatively meaningful amount.

It's in a developers best interest to get consumers to try its apps and spread the word through positive reviews, which would theoretically lead to greater sales on the paid side. In that case, both Google and developer may come out ahead in terms of revenues.

Regardless, the promo code support is here now, so Android app programmers who have long wanted the feature now have it. Perhaps if it actually raises awareness of some solid paid apps and brings in more revenue, Google will consider expanding the number of quarterly promo codes in the future.

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