Why app store incompatibilities ended up with Spacetime Studios giving away $330,000 of in-game currency

Barriers to a universal wallet

Why app store incompatibilities ended up with Spacetime Studios giving away $330,000 of in-game currency
| Spacetime Studios news

Issues such as device fragmentation are often highlighted when it comes to trying to run coherent services across multiple mobile operating systems.

However, like rocks hidden just under the water's surface, the oft-shifting terms and conditions of app stores are increasing being cited as major problems.

The latest example comes from US developer Spacetime Studios. It's been successfully operating its MMORPG Pocket Legends on iOS and Android for more than a year, and had planned to roll out its second game Star Legends using a universal wallet system across both.

Wherever you want

"When we originally conceived of multiple game titles that share a single account, we also planned to have our in-game currency work across all of our games. We very much wanted this convenience for our players, and had every intention of carrying through on this," explained CEO Gary Gattis.

However, while the game was in submission, it became clear than the terms and conditions of one app store wouldn't allow this. Spacetime hasn't detailed which platform, but the assumption is that it's Apple.

"The terms of service have been subject to interpretation before and have been known to change without notice to developers," Gattis says.

"When we made the original announcement about shared accounts and currency we had every indication that a universal currency was possible."

Fan backlash

Obviously a technical disappointment for the development team, the real knock on impact however was the reaction of the players.

Because it had previously announced a joint wallet between games, alongside a new webstore, some players had already stockpiled the in-game Platinum currency in anticipation. Now they're stuck with that currency only being available for Pocket Legends.

As you expect, the result was a storm of criticism on the company's forum, with some individuals complaining long and loud about the situation.


"We've tried very hard to make amends with the players who purchased Platinum with that [sharing] feature in mind," Gattis explains.

For that reason, any players who had purchased Platinum after the single currency announcement were given 30 Platinum in recompense.

"We granted in excess of 1.5 million Platinum. This is in excess of $330,000 worth in order to rectify the situation," he says.

Still, some people aren't happy, with one player contacting PocketGamer.biz suggesting that the amount of Platinum purchased should be duplicated in both games' accounts, or that Spacetime should highlight that under Apple's terms and conditions, IAP can be refunded.

He's since been banned from the forum, twice.

Of course, to a degree, these are the sort of issues developers have to deal with when operating games as service. The intricacies of running virtual currency across mobile platforms adds another layer that's unlikely to get simplified any time soon though.

"It's a major bummer, but it is what it is," a wiser if wearier Gattis concludes.