I want to avoid google play and appstore 30% fees the following way:

1.I have a website which sells codes to unlock some app content.

2.Users enter the code inside an app to gain access to content.

3.There will be no links leading FROM the app to a website.

4.The content is a room quest: user scans printed QR codes to start interaction with game object(npc). Inside app are dialogs, inventory, profile and so on. So, it's somewhat mixed, but mostly digital product.

My questions are:

Since there are no purchase IN app, does it count as a InAppPurchase? :)

Is this legal?

If not, will I be catched? As far as I know, google play doesn't rely much on human checks rather than automated checks by neural networks. Apple, on the other hand, does check apps, but since there will be no references to a website (all users are gonna go from website to an app, not vice versa), what's a chance they will find a website itself?

What if I offer the same content inside apps at increased by 30% cost additionally? Will it make it legal?

Apple's official guidelines state that:

If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, (by way of example: subscriptions, in-game currencies, game levels, access to premium content, or unlocking a full version), you must use in-app purchase. Apps may use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to “tip” digital content providers in the app. Apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.

So, no metadata, buttons, external links or calls to actions included.

  • 1
    Step 2 in your process is going to be what Apple will refuse your app on, as this is a call to action - you can certainly have an out-of-app purchasing flow, but the content delivery also needs to be outside the app - see the Amazon Kindle app or apps like Dropbox, both have out of app purchase flows (Dropbox also has in-app flows) but the content delivery is automatic.
    – user4210
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 23:05
  • Well, no way I'm moving my content delivery out of app. What if I sell content in app via apple pay with 30% of price on, and additionally selling it on a website for codes without 30%? Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 23:17
  • 1
    That wont work, Apple penalises you if your pricing is different for in-app purchases vs external purchase. The pricing needs to be the same, and you need to eat the cost.
    – user4210
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 23:56
  • @Moo Your claim that Apple will refuse your app is nonsense. I worked on an app where over 100,000 users paid for our website, and Apple had absolutely no problem with that.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 0:26
  • 1
    @gnasher729 yeah, and I work in this space as well, and Ive come across multiple issues - Ive also been heavily involved in Dropbox when they had their issues here too. But fine, whatever, you win, Im done dealing with you here on Law.
    – user4210
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 2:01

2 Answers 2


This is not really a law question, but a question about the terms and conditions of Google and Apple. So yes, it is absolutely legal. You won't go to jail for it. I know nothing about the Google side, so this answer is about what Apple will do.

"If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app" refers to unlocking features or functionality within your app. That has to go through an in-app purchase, not for example through customer entering their debit or credit card number.

Unlocking features or functionality from your website is done on your website, not within the app, so Apple doesn't care about this. And they don't care about how much it costs where. Many apps make the price on their website a bit cheaper to make people pay through the website, that's absolutely fine. Been there, done that.

The only thing that you are not allowed by Apple's T's and C's is referring to your website from within the app.

You should also consider that your in-app purchases are much easier for the user to discover if they can be made from within the app, and you have nothing to do to process payments other than accepting the money from Apple. For purchases in over 100 countries. So you might actually lose quite a bit of money. But that's your decision.

  • I don't know what it could be if it isn't a law question. The fact that the only repercussions would be civil resulting from the contractual relationship, doesn't make the question anything other than a legal question about criminal law. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 1:49
  • 2
    A question about contracts is most definitely a law question
    – Dale M
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 3:06
  • Thanks! What about Google play? Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 8:12
  • I'd say para 4 of this answer is incorrect as (it seems to me) it conflicts with Apple's Guidelines cited in the question -- "The only thing that you are not allowed by Apple's T's and C's is referring to your website from within the app." para 4 of this answer "other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase." Apple's Official Guidelines cited in question Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 9:32
  • @DaleM almost certainly the Apple contract says they can revoke your permission to publish your app at any time for any reason whatsoever Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 14:37

Probably not.

Legal is a criminal law issue. The relationship in question is civil, contract in particular.

So, why do I say probably not? Well, we know that the copyright messages on movie discs warn about civil damages (money) and criminal prosecution.

That was there before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which (I haven't read it, this is hearsay) I've been led to believe has additional criminal penalties.

So, the question is, what issues might arise? If a copyright violation arises, you've got the potential for criminal prosecution. And the answer to your question would be, "Yes. It's illegal." I could imagine theft charges, also illegal criminal activity. I wouldn't expect to see anyone arrested, unless the money in question was very much. But the possibility can't be ruled out.

  • 1
    how is copyright involved?!
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 6:46

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