Apples App store demo policy: does "Lite" count?

Timed to perfectly disrupt CES, Apple opened their App Store yesterday.

appstore

The App store is software for Macs which makes it easy to find, download and buy new apps. It’s generally acknowledged that it’s going to be a huge success, though there’s been some controversy, mostly from developers:

  • Apple takes their usual 30%
  • Buy once, download as many times as you like (the Steam model)
  • There are no demos

The demo aspect is what’s interesting to me. Supposedly this mimics the Apple iOS App Store, where demos apparently arent’ available either. Which confuses me, because I’m sure I’ve tried free demo versions of full games on a number of occasions. Oh right, they were called “Lite” versions. So what’s the deal here? Are demos actually fully welcome in the App Store, as long as they’re simply named “Lite” or “Express”? Is it simply an issue of silly semantics?

Here’s the Apple law of the land:

2.6 Apps that are “beta”, “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions will be rejected.

7.4 Apps containing “rental” content or services that expire after a limited time will be rejected.

I don’t particularly object to these rules, though I do like to try a demo version before I shell out the dough. If Apple had gone the Android route, however, this problem could probably have been solved with a refund window. As it stands, however, we have Lite and Express versions, but no demos. So what’s the difference between a Lite version and a demo version? Particularly in the context of games, this is what I was able to come up with:

  1. Some game demos expire after a set amount of time. I’m pretty sure this is a rejection reason.
  2. Some game demos have, say, 10 levels of a game and require you to purchase the full version to get the remaining levels.
  3. A few game demos, say space shooters, provide all the levels but don’t allow you to upgrade your weapons or try better ships.

Barring #1, would #2 and #3 reject you from the App Store if you called your demo “lite”? And how about circumventing these rules by simply linking to a downloadable demo from the App Store product page? I don’t have any answers, only a confused look on my face. Are we looking at an App Store that for all intents and purposes still have demo versions, just a different kind of demo version?

6 thoughts on “Apples App store demo policy: does "Lite" count?”

  1. Good questions!

    On difference 2: In those cases the consumer still downloads the whole game, it takes up all the space of the whole game, but only part of it is used. Offering a Lite version resolves this.

    Difference 3 is still there in some Lite versions: you can do an in-game buy for extra levels or a ‘new mode’.

    As for the refund: it’s a hassle because you involve financial(/transaction) parties (many) more times, which is expensive, and is open to abuse.

    PS. “download as many times as you like”

    1. Joen says:

      On difference 2: In those cases the consumer still downloads the whole game, it takes up all the space of the whole game, but only part of it is used. Offering a Lite version resolves this.

      Brian seems to disagree with this one. He points out the locked portions could be unlocked through in-app purchases.

      Thanks for the correction.

      1. Brian seems to disagree with this one. He points out the locked portions could be unlocked through in-app purchases.

        Which would make it the same difference as 3. Wouldn’t it?

        1. Joen says:

          James John Malcolm,

          It would, yes.

          Which once again seems to indicate that there are in fact, demos, in the Mac App Store — there’s just a psychological difference, and guidelines as to how you put your demo together.

          Video exporters with save disabled or with watermarks are probably still barred.

          1. James John Malcolm,
            Which once again seems to indicate that there are in fact, demos, in the Mac App Store — there’s just a psychological difference, and guidelines as to how you put your demo together.

            True.

  2. opiu23 says:

    « don’t particularly object to these rules, though I do like to try a demo version before I shell out the dough.»

    & u can, just outside that program. which, imho, btw, sucks.

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