If Reddit's Paid API plans become reality, free third-party Reddit apps are doomed
Reddit posted an "update regarding Reddit's API" today on the official Reddit subforum on the site. In it, the company explains that it will be updating its terms for developers "to ensure developers have the tools and information they need to continue to use Reddit safely, protect our users' privacy and security, and adhere to local regulations".
Broken down to its core, Reddit plans to limit access to its Developer Platform. The post is vague, but the main takeaways are that Reddit will commercialize its API and limit access to the API for free developers and access to mature content.
The company claims that its API will still be "open for appropriate use cases and accessible" via its Developer Platform, but it will introduce rate limits.
The information is vague and does not reveal additional details. Reddit did not provide information on the rate limits, API access costs, what it considers appropriate use cases, and how it plans to handle mature content access in the future.
In the calls, Reddit confirmed that it is moving to a paid API model for apps. The company claimed that its main intention is for it to cover the costs of usage and lost revenue. Lost revenue refers to Reddit not being able to earn revenue from users of third-party apps.
Reddit stated that the API cost will be usage based, but details were not provided on these costs at the time. Additionally, Reddit does not seem to be interested in offering free usage of the API for the majority of third-party apps out there. Mature content, or NSFW content, might not be accessible via APIs in the future, but the company admitted that it had not finalized the decision at that point.
All in all, it is clear that the third-party application landscape for Reddit will change significantly later this year. Many free apps will vanish or move to a subscription model. Paid Reddit apps that charged a one-time fee may also need to move to a subscription model to take into account the usage-based API access fees.
Reddit apps optimized for the access of NSFW content will likely be doomed, provided that Reddit does not have a change of heart in the last minute and keeps access to mature content available through its API. In that event, these apps may also need to charge for access using a subscription-based model.
Reddit may have hopes that users of third-party apps will move to the official Reddit app instead. Reddit plans to reveal more about its plans, including information about limits and price, in the coming weeks. Plans are to launch the updated Terms and API access in June.
Access in web browsers remains free, as it is direct access. The move looks like a repeat of Twitter's decision to drop its Free API.
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