Rewards programs are all the rage today, from ride-sharing services and airlines to credit cards. After launching in Japan and South Korea, Google is now bringing Play Points to the United States.
After opting in, you will earn Play Points for app, IAP, subscription, movie, television show, book, audiobook, and music purchases. Downloading select free apps will garner you some Points, while there’s a “Weekly Prize” that nets you free points on higher tiers.
How many points you earn per dollar depends on whether you’re in the Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum level. You move up from $1 = 1 point to a dollar netting you 1.1, 1.2, or 1.4 points. From time to time, game events will let you get more through “Special earn rates,” like spending $1 on apps or movies and collecting more points in return.
In terms of redeeming, most people will be interested in getting back Play Store credit. You’ll also be able to buy in-game items, with some developers offering goods that can only be acquired via Play Points. Notable is the ability to donate directly to causes and nonprofits like Doctors Without Borders USA, Save the Children, and the World Food Program USA.
All this can be managed through a new “Play Points” page accessible from Google Play’s navigation drawer. Your points total is noted in the top-right corner along with the current tier. There are three tabs/feeds for “Earn,” “Use,” and “Perks.” Elsewhere in Play, app listings identify when you can earn additional points from free apps, while payment confirmation sheets list how much you’ll score with each purchase.
Speaking to Google before the launch, it’s clear that they see Play Points as a means to “thank users for choosing Play.” Like any other rewards program, you can optimize and maximize to earn the most number of points. However, for large swaths of users, this will likely exist in the background, and Google is perfectly content with that being the case.
That said, Google tells us that the service is doing “very well,” with Japanese and South Korean customers “engaged.” In bringing over stateside, the company made sure to line up partnerships that users will find value in.
The Play Points program starts rolling out today and will be available for all in the US by the end of this week. Education and supervised Google accounts through Family Link will not be eligible to join.
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