Detecting and delivering in-app items

This topic describes how to detect and deliver in-app products in your game after players purchase them with Play Points in the Google Play app.

Once users redeem their Play Points for an in-app product in the Google Play app, the items should be delivered immediately in your game. The following displays how a user purchases items with Play Points.

1. Click Play Points. 2. Select the item and click the Use tab. 3. Receive the item.
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In the example, the game is not running while the product is purchased. Users can also exchange Play Points for products when the game isn't installed on their device. Because of this, you must design your game to handle in-app item delivery from outside of the in-game store.

Before you get started

Before you detect and deliver an in-app product, you must create the product and Play Points promotions.

Delivery requirements

When you deliver in-app products in your game using a Play Points promotion, you must follow the requirements in this section.

Delivery timing

When a player exchanges Play Points for an in-app product, you must deliver the item immediately without requiring the player to restart the game. In cases where game content must be completed beforehand, such as completing a tutorial, the item should be delivered immediately after.

Delivery message

Once a user returns to your game after purchasing an in-app product outside of the game, you must display a confirmation that the product was successfully granted within the game. The message should come in the form of a pop-up dialog or an in-game message. Users should not have to take any additional steps to receive the item.

Here's the required messaging format:

  • A clear message that the item has been received.

  • Refer to the item name clearly and refer to “Play Points” to ensure users can distinguish it from other content they receive.

  • The name of the item must also include the correct denomination of the item if there are similar items with multiple denominations.

  • The pop-up dialog, message, or in-game notification should be visible to the user until the user clicks a confirmation such as, Continue or OK. There should not be a cancel button, as this message is only meant to notify users of the item they have received in-game. If there is no confirmation button, then the message should be visible to users for at least 3 seconds before disappearing to ensure users know they have received their item.

Here's an example message:

"Item received! You just got 100 Gems with Play Points. Continue."

Users should see an animation or some visual confirmation displaying the increase in their balance of in-game currency. If the item is a durable or consumable in-app item, users should be directed to where the item has been unlocked or is available within the game.

Detect items received outside of the game

If your game uses the Google Play Billing Library, make the following changes in order to detect in-app products that are received outside of the game.

  1. In your game’s onResume() callback, call the queryPurchases() method to retrieve a list of items, so you can determine which ones are not acknowledged.

  2. If your game has a server, we strongly recommend that you verify the purchase from your server by using the Subscriptions and In-App Purchases API.

  3. If there are owned but unacknowledged items, acknowledge the purchase either with consumeAsync() for consumable items or with acknowledgePurchase() for non-consumable items.

  4. Grant entitlement to the purchased item inside the game.

Detect items received in split-screen mode

If your game supports multi-window mode, it is possible for users to redeem Play Points and receive the item, while running the Play Store app and your game at the same time. This screenshot displays an example:

A screenshot where the Redeem points button is displayed while a game is running.

To support this scenario with the Google Play Billing Library, do the following:

  1. Google Play calls the onPurchasesUpdated() method to notify your game that there is a new pending item.

  2. If your game has a server, we strongly recommend that you verify the purchase from your server by using the Subscriptions and In-App Purchases API.

  3. Acknowledge the purchase either with consumeAsync() for consumable items or with acknowledgePurchase() for non-consumable items.

  4. Grant entitlement to the purchased item inside the game.

Display a delivery confirmation

When users redeem Play Points and receive an exchange item, they expect the game to show an in-game message, or use some kind of notification to let them know that the game correctly received and processed the item. Here are some delivery confirmation options:

  • Show an in-game popup.

  • Deliver the message to an in-game message box, and clearly state that there is a new message in the in-game message box.

  • Use an OS notification message.

It is possible for the game to be in any state when the promotional item is received including not being installed on the device. You must detect promotional items regardless of the state in which the game is when the item is received. However, there are some exceptions where it may be acceptable to not immediately notify the user that the item was received. For example:

  • During the game action, where showing a message may distract the user. In this case, you must notify the user after the action ends.

  • During cutscenes, where showing a message may distract the user. In this case, you must notify the user after the cutscene is over.

  • During the initial tutorial and user setup parts of the game. We recommend you notify new users of the reward immediately after they open the game or during initial user set up. However, it is acceptable to wait until the main game sequence is available to notify the user.

If your app has multiple characters or accounts that the item could be applied to, we recommend you prompt the user to select which account receives the promotional items.

Consider users when deciding when and how to notify them of promotional items. Any time a user doesn’t immediately receive a notification, they may get confused, stop playing the game, contact user support, or complain about it on social media.

Updates for specific game engines

Here are some considerations to make for specific game engines:

  • If your game is built with Unity, we recommend that you verify whether the IAP implementation you're using already supports Play Points promotions.

  • If your game is built with Cocos2d-x or Unreal Engine (C/C++), you will most likely need to write the JNI code that calls Java APIs from your C/C++ code.

Server-side best practices

This section contains server-side best practices to use for Play Points promotions:

  • If you call Purchases.products: get on your server, verify whether you need to handle Play rewards exchange items and other in-app products separately based on the productId values.

  • If you use Inappproducts: list on your server, verify whether you need to separate Play rewards exchange items from other in-app products by productId values.

  • Review the following best practices to verify whether you need to make additional changes:

Troubleshooting

This section contains recommendations for scenarios that can result in customer inquiries.

Multiple user accounts

If a user has multiple Google accounts on their device and they redeem Play Points on the wrong account, Google cannot transfer the items to the other accounts. Likewise, your app can't transfer the item by calling the getPurchases() method. In this scenario, consider manually providing the in-app items to the user using your customer support operations.

Delayed or missing items

If players experience delayed or missing rewards items, see the troubleshooting guide for in-app purchases in the Google Play help documentation.