Google will next week introduce in-app purchasing on its Android operating system, the company has said.
Android Market In-app Billing will allow developers to sell virtual items within games. Google smartphone users will be able to purchase the likes of custom avatar clothing, virtual weapons and extra levels.
Crucially for developers, the in-game purchase feature will unlock the potential of free-to-play games on Google’s range of mobile devices.
The free-to-play payment model, once met with levels of scepticism in the west, has turned heads in recent years. Zynga, one famous advocate of the model, has grown into a $7+ billion enterprise in the space of four years.
“We're pleased to let you know that we will be launching In-app Billing next week,” Google said.
Testing on the service has already begun, Google said. Developers can upload apps, create a catalogue of in-app products, and set prices for each.
“You can then set up accounts to test in-app purchases,” Google added.
“During these test transactions, the In-app Billing service interacts with your app exactly as it will for actual users and live transactions.”