EA and Apple test out a promotion for free in-app purchases

Apple’s(s appl) App Store is a crowded market for games, and even gaming giants like EA(s EA) have a tough time getting noticed. For years, developers have dropped the prices of their apps in the hopes of getting them onto more devices, but on Thursday, EA started testing a new type of promotional giveaway: It’s giving out special iOS codes for “Real Racing 3” that give players a little bit of the game’s in-app currency.

Since “Real Racing 3” is a freemium game, it would’ve been impossible to discount the face price of the game. Instead, visiting a special link unlocks a “Handful of Gold,” which would be a $2 purchase without the promotion. The 10 gold pieces can be used by players to customize and upgrade the game’s cars. “Real Racing 3” offers in-app purchases that cost as much as $20.

Real Racing 3 has had moderate success on the Apple App Store, clocking in as the top grossing app in 70 countries in March 2013. However, its downloads have been slipping recently, which is a fairly common problem among aging games.

The promotion, which was spotted by 148Apps, seems to be a use of Apple’s promo codes, which previously had only been used for paid app giveaways. Given the history between Apple and EA, whose games are frequently featured on the App Store, this could be the first of many promotions of this kind.