Reddit is one of the biggest and most important websites on the planet, especially since it’s one of the last places human beings can get questions answered by actual human beings. It’s also a colossally active hub for the discussion of video games, a place where millions of gamers gather every day in communities devoted to everything from retro classics to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. So it sucks to see that the company is about to crush many of the best ways to actually experience the whole thing.
For anyone using the site on a desktop computer the Reddit experience is fine, I guess (“Old Reddit” is better), but on phones, that all changes. Reddit’s official app sucks, and is absolutely loaded with intrusive ads, meaning a lot of people rely on the work of third-party apps—like the incredibly popular Apollo on iOS and my own favourite, Infinity on Android—to browse and comment.
Or they did. Those third-party apps only existed because Reddit allowed them to access their API (essentially their backend); today, the site announced specific changes to that arrangement (first broadly announced last month), implementing charges for the data—similar to those introduced by another platform with popular third-party apps, Twitter—that are so astronomical they’re going to price every third-party app out of the market.
The creator of Apollo has done the math, and says:
I’ll cut to the chase: 50 million requests costs $12,000, a figure far more than I ever could have imagined.
Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year. Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month, which is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month.
Meanwhile one of the developers of RIF, another popular Android app, says that they are not only also being priced out (if Apollo can’t afford it nobody can), but that Reddit is also implementing a change where third-party apps would lose access to NSFW subreddits, while the official site would not:
Removal of sexually explicit material from third-party apps while keeping said content in the official app. Some people have speculated that NSFW is going to leave Reddit entirely, but then why would Reddit Inc have recently expanded NSFW upload support on their desktop site?
It’s obvious that the steep pricing, which goes far beyond what these developers were expecting or could ever afford, is not there to make money. Not when it was clear nobody was ever going to be able to pay it. It’s being brought in to crush third-party alternatives, driving every mobile user to the official app where they’ll either have to watch ads or pay for Reddit Premium.
Or, you know, stop going to Reddit.