Google Debuts Refund Request API

Google has added more tools to the Play Developer Console, including a new API for managing Play Store refunds. The new feature set mainly targets subscriptions, betas, independent titles, and virtual reality content. 

The voidedPurchases API is the only new API in the revised Play Developer Console. This API is meant to help developers identify people who have requested refunds, particularly within game economies. Google wants to ensure that all users are able to enjoy gaming experiences, but undertstands that some in-game purchases are made unintentionally. The voidedPurchases API is being rolled out as an early beta. Developers who are interested in targeting refund requests can sign up for the early beta access program. Google hasn't said much else about the API. 

Beyond the new API, Google made a number of other changes that should get developers excited. 

To start, developers can now offer new subscription promos. The idea here is to help foster subscriptions, be it to games, magazines, or other periodic content. Google says subscriptions are among the fastest growing business models within the Play Store. In fact, comsumer spending on subscription apps has increased by a factor of 10 over the last three years. The subscription promo tools will let developers set introductory pricing for new subscribers for a set period of time. For example, developers can discount their normal service by $1 per month for the first three months before the normal subscription price kicks in. Google believes this will work well with other pricing tools already in place, such as local/custom pricing and free trials. 

Google has expanded the availability of its pre-registration program. Google launched the pre-registration program earlier this year with a select few developers. It allows end users to tap a "pre-register" button within the Play Store to indicate their interest in the app. The process, says Google, then sets up an automatic alert that prompts the user to download the app once it is available. 

The pre-registration program goes hand-in-hand with the Early Access open beta program. Google says developers are taking advantage of this tool in droves. It allows developers to interact with early adopters and get feedback ahead of an app's official launch. More than 4 million users have downloaded beta apps since the program debuted. Developers can sign up for the Early Access program here

Google is pushing the Play Store beyond smartphones and tablets. The company is prepared to launch its Daydream virtual reality platform in the weeks ahead and wants to ensure its VR goggles have plenty of content. Moreover, Andriod apps are now available on select Chromebooks, and developers will eventually be able to make apps available directly on Android Wear devices. The expanded availability of the Play Store should help developers gain visibility. 

Last, Google is shining a spotlight on independent developers. The Indie Corner and Google Play Indie Games Festival give small app developers a home to call their own. Developers can nominate indie games for inclusion in the Indie Corner if they wish. Google says it will pick what it feels are the best apps based on the quality of the experience.

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Google Releases Final Android 7.1 Developer Preview


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