Sell a code in a physical store. Unlock a specific app downloaded from Google Play or Apple Store with that code.

The activation codes are common in Windows software. We download a shareware or trial software. If we buy the activation code and introduce it in the software, the software is fully activated.

However it is not common to see in the Android and iOS apps. We want to sell a toy which includes a smartphone video game. We want only who bought the physical toy can play the video game. So we though in an activation code.

We are worried that Google or Apple won’t allow it as they want to keep for themselves a percent of anything sold through their stores. So we research, but we did not find anything clear:

  • ¿Redeem codes and gift cards are the same? Anyway, it does not seem to work to activate or buy a specific app but any app. So it does not seem to be a valid solution for us.
  • The video game Angry Birds Transformers uses physical toys with a QR code that you can buy. The player can scan those QR code to get new characters or charge their armor. However it is not an activation code that blocks the game until the code is introduced. It is not the same that our case.
  • Mattel View Master Experience packs. Those packs include a pass card. That pass card (is it a smart card?) activates the full game. It is possible to buy the full game with an in app purchase (without augmented reality I guess as it seems we need the plastic discs for that). It seems the same we want to do: an activation code that activate the full app. However this company has launched the product in partnership with Google, so maybe they have “special” rights.

I’m stuck. Any idea to keep researching?

You going to need a server with a database. Where in your server you are going to register some codes, and when you start the game, ask a code that came with the toy, where your game is going to check into the database if the code exist and unlock the game. This is a basic idea what you can do.