Tapjoy Tries to Own a Direct Relationship to Consumers With New Gaming Platform

There is no company out there that probably knows the risks of building on someone else’s platform better than Tapjoy.

Pushed aside after becoming a powerhouse for monetization and app distribution on both the Facebook and iOS platforms, the San Francisco-based company is taking the lessons of those difficult times to heart in launching its own web-based gaming platform today.

Called Tapjoy Games, it’s a mobile web destination that consumers can install directly on their own phones so they can get virtual currency in their favorite apps for free if they download more apps from other developers.

It’s a savvy runaround, especially considering that Apple has strict rules around in-app payments and virtual currencies. Tapjoy used to support offer walls in native iOS apps where gamers could avoid paying for virtual currency if they downloaded other apps.

But Apple cracked down on this practice, saying that Tapjoy was having an undue influence on chart rankings. The company’s network of apps had grown so large that a single campaign could catapult an app up into the top 25 and Apple didn’t want any third-party to have too much power on its own platform.

Tapjoy aggressively shifted over to Android, but it also runs the risk that the same thing will happen on Google’s platform especially considering that the company has expressed distaste for offer walls in the past.

So the mobile web is an ideal, alternative route. It’s the one that Facebook is taking as well with its own HTML5-based gaming platform. The issue is that installing HTML5-anything on a phone involves more friction points, where users are likely to drop off. The user has to remember Tapjoy’s URL, http://www.tapjoygames.com, and then they have to install a bookmark on their homepage. Users might fall off before they sign up so it’s unclear how large a network of players this route can actually support.

We’re also still getting details on how this is able to be compliant with iOS’ terms of service. Stay tuned.