No Review Copies of 17+ Rated App Store Apps

Posted on Feb 23, 2011

I am wary that this blog is in danger of turning into “Gripes With Apple”, especially after last week’s article, so I thought twice about posting this. It’s certainly not of the same order of magnitude as last week’s news, but it is something I’d usually blog about if I hadn’t seen it covered anywhere else - and I haven’t seen it covered anywhere else, so here goes…

Recently I noticed that I can no longer generate “promo codes” for Eucalyptus. These codes are basically akin to iTunes gift cards, and they allow free copies of apps to be given to people - reviewers, for example. They’re quite important if you want your app to be reviewed anywhere - in web or print (in case you were unaware, review sites and magazines generally don’t buy the apps they’re reviewing, they’re sent ‘promo’ copies by the publishers).

I asked Apple about what I at the time thought was an issue with the web site that usually allows me to generate them, and today received a response by email:

Thank you for contacting Apple Developer Support with regard to iTunes Connect Promo Codes. Please know that applications which are rated 17+ will not be provided Promotional Codes for distribution. As such, the usual button to request Promo Codes in iTunes Connect will not be visible for these applications on the Version Details page.

Despite their wording implying that this is just “how things are”, this is a recent change - and in fact it’s a reversal of a policy decision they made in 2009.

This affects a larger number of apps than it might be naively thought, because Apple’s policy is that it’s not only apps that contain explicit content themselves, but any app that can access content from the Internet that’s not under the developer’s direct control that needs to be rated 17+.