You’ve built a great app, and you may have spent a lot of time implementing IAP in your app so you can make a bit of money for your efforts (or better still, make a lot of money from your efforts!). But perhaps like most developers, maybe 2-10% of your customers actually buy anything. It can get frustrating. Now, with Amazon Underground you have the option to monetize your app and get paid based on how much time users actually spend using your app. All your users.
If you are interested in trying out this new monetization model by submitting an existing IAP-based app, the following is a guide for you!
How to Submit Your IAP App to Amazon Underground
At the most basic, you create an Amazon Underground app with copies of your IAP items. These will be marked #ActuallyFree with strikethrough prices so customers can see the value you’re giving them. If you happen to have the IAP amounts hard coded in your catalog UI, you’ll need to change your UI as well.
Before you get started you can read more about Amazon Underground Eligibility and Submission Criteria. Once you’ve gone through the docs, these are the steps you need to preform in order to get your game ready for submission:
Step 1: Make All Your IAP Items Free
Option 1: Re-create and re-submit to the Amazon Appstore using new SKUs for the Amazon Underground version of your app
Set each re-created item to its original IAP price; Amazon will apply strikethrough pricing to your items to show that they are now free. You will also need to update your code base to use the new SKUs. See Submitting Your App and In-App Items for more information on submitting IAP items to the Amazon Appstore.
Note: If you are not already using Amazon's IAP API because your app uses a different in-app purchasing API, such as Google's IAB, you will need to implement Amazon's IAP API to use this option. If your app uses Google's In-App Billing (IAB), see this documentation to learn more.
Option 2: Remove the IAP integration from your app, but provide an alternate mechanism for users to obtain IAP items for free
For example, build a "store" that does not actually make any IAP calls or have any IAP items on the backend but whose items can be purchased through non-monetary ways. Your users could then "buy" items from your store, just as they normally would do for IAP items, but the "currency" for the store could be game experience, time played, or something else. When developing ways to unlock IAP items, keep in mind that you will not be permitted to require users to watch ads to unlock IAP items.
Implementing Option 2 involves the following high-level tasks:
- Remove the IAP SDK from your code.
- Modify your purchase execution call to fulfill former IAP items to your users for free:
- Add your own logic for what each former IAP button does, such as a "Buy" button. (This logic is handled by the IAP SDK for non-Amazon Underground apps.)
- Fulfill the item to the customer.
We encourage you to update the icons and strings for your IAP items for Amazon Underground to emphasize to users that they are now receiving these items for free, which will help to communicate to your users the value of the items that they are now receiving for free.
Step 2: Repackage Your App
In order for your game to work with Amazon Underground you will need to create a new APK for your app. This APK will need a unique package name that includes appending the string ".underground" to the original package name for the app. For example, "com.company.example.underground" would be the package name for the Amazon Underground version of "com.company.example."
Your app will also get an #ActuallyFree badge on its Appstore icon. Once submitted, you can see a preview of the badge on your icon. You can also add the badge to icons contained in your .apk file.
You can read more about migrating your app on the developer portal.
Step 3: Solution to Migrate User Data
While not required, it would be a good user experience if you ensured that customers of your current app can keep and use any saved data in the new Amazon Underground version as well. There are many ways to do this and we outline a few data migration solutions and best practices.
Step 4: Create New Marketing Material for the Amazon Underground Version of Your App
You will need to upload new screenshots and a new app description to the developer portal. It’s important to explain the value you’re giving customers and call out any additional features of your app as part of the Amazon Underground program. We will automatically add Amazon Underground branding to any assets uploaded through the dev portal so you don’t have to do this manually.
Step 5: Upload Your New App APK
Now you are ready to follow the new submission process for Amazon Appstore through the dev portal. Simply upload your new APK, description and screenshots and submit for approval. Once the app passes testing, your app will be live to all Amazon Underground customers.
More Engagement = More Revenue
The process is fairly simple, and now you will have all the advantages of getting paid for every minute your customers spend in your app while your customers enjoy free engaging items that they may not normally have purchased. The best part of the Amazon Underground program is letting developers focus on making engaging apps and delighting customers while also taking advantage of the fact that each user session will generate money. The longer customers engage with your app, the higher the potential reward. Simply build the app you want to make and that customers want to use and let Amazon Underground help you monetize it automatically.
If you have a game that you think must be re-balanced to work (like a cross platform PvP game, where unlimited game currency would disrupt cross platform play), please let us know about your app. We’d like to work directly with you on this to see how we could support it in the future.
Getting Started is Easy
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-Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)