Update: The app has been pulled from the store. John Gruber hypothesizes that the app was actually approved in error, with the App Store screening team not realizing that they had made a policy shift.
Bloomberg reports that Apple has allowed Big Fish Games to begin offering its games in a subscription-based model. For US$6.99 per month, iPad users will have access to Big Fish Games' entire library of iPad games.
Subscription models have already been introduced for newspapers and magazines sold in the App Store, and Netflix is a prime example of how the subscription model can succeed for movies. According to Big Fish, it took some extra arm-twisting to convince Apple to allow the subscription model for Big Fish's games.
Big Fish Games will also offer free, ad-supported access to its game library for thirty minutes per day. As an alternative, users can sign up for all-you-can-eat access at an initial cost of $4.99 per month, which will increase to $6.99 per month next year after Big Fish adds more titles. (As always, Apple will collect its 30 percent commission on subscription sales.) The company also plans to expand its subscription services to the Android platform early next year.
Games played through the subscription service will be streamed to users' iPads rather than downloaded in their entirety, and as such the service will initially work only over Wi-Fi.
This is an interesting move on Big Fish Games' part, and it will be fascinating to see whether this experiment with subscription-based gaming is successful or not. I imagine other gaming companies, particularly the bigger houses like EA and Gameloft, are going to be watching developments in this space very closely.