Originally Posted by strivemind
Seems like. Watch from around 5:30 on from Sanuku's video. Looks like premium currency required to unlock skills, purchase new Skylanders (presumably using a physical one with a portal will unlock the character for free), and potions.
Just reading the description of the "benefits" gained from buying the box set (with figures, portal and treasure chest) revealed this awhile ago.
•Exclusive platinum treasure chest packed with in game rewards
•Over 100 power items including health potions, elixirs, shields, bombs
•Light of the Champions Gem - level 4x faster with your characters
•Power Item Bag - carry the maximum amount of power items into battle
So basically, buying just the app gives you a version of the game where your ability to level up is artificially restricted, you can't use as many items in battle, you don't get a set of "premium gifts," and presumably you won't be able to level up an actual figure if you use the 10-digit ID code to bring them into the game instead of a portal. (Assuming the levels in this actually go onto the figure.)
I'm holding off until we learn more about the game and if it's a "throw money at the problem to get more Power Items" kind of game. If the Light of the Champions is a Platinum Treasure Chest exclusive or has a hefty real-life price tag to it, I'll probably pass on this.