Apple adds games to monthly subscription option

Apple is continuing its campaign to get its hands on 30 per cent of every penny taken via iOS devices such as the iPad or iPhone, allowing a games publisher to sell pay-monthly subscription services for the first time.

Apple's approach to content on the iOS is undeniably clever: rather than providing any original content of its own - its only self-published gaming title, Texas Hold'em, was recently removed from the App Store - it provides mechanisms for third parties to provide content, from which it takes a cut.

It's something the company has been doing successfully for years: its iTunes Store provided the model, allowing publishers to list songs - and, later, TV programmes and films - that iPod owners could purchase and download.

The company's efforts have accelerated in recent years, however, with Apple enforcing a 30 per cent cut of any in-app purchases made on its iOS platform - even if it's not providing the infrastructure. It's a move that has led to Amazon pulling its Kindle Reader app from the store in favour of a web-based version that circumvents the rules - but not everyone is complaining.

Apple's latest offering, Newsstand, is proving popular, providing a platform for publishers to upload magazine and newspaper content for purchase on iPad and iPhone devices. The concept is nothing new - third-party companies like Zinio and PressReader offer similar functionality - but the 'one-stop-shop' nature has won Newsstand some fans.

Buoyed by success, Apple has revealed plans to take its existing App Store-powered games purchase model to the next level: pay-monthly subscription services.

According to business news site Bloomberg, the first company to take advantage of Apple's apparent relaxing of the rules - which had, previously, disallowed subscription-based access in this manner - will be Big Fish Games, which will offer unlimited access to its entire collection of iPad games for a $6.99 monthly fee.

It's far from a done deal for others, though: while Big Fish Games has seen its application approved, it was reportedly an uphill struggle - and with no official mechanism for offering such services appearing from Apple itself, there's no guarantee that a similar app from another company will be allowed to implement the same charging mechanism.

It's a start, however - and should Big Fish Games prove that the model can be successful, Apple will almost certainly make it an officially available option - if only to ensure it's not left out of the subsequent revenue stream.