Many parents don't realize the cute $1 game downloads oftentimes rack up large charges.
PC Magazine recently reported that a Pennsylvania man has sued Apple for “unlawful exploitation,” with claims that in-app purchases can easily be made by minors. Apple only requires users to enter an iTunes password to authorize purchases, which some say is not adequate protection. Game Currency has become a lucrative business by making micro-purchases one thumb-tap away.
In Sweden two boys played the game Smurfs’ Village on their Ipads during a longer car trip. Without using a password, they bought smurfberries in the game for 749 SEK ($120) apiece.
When the parents saw the receipts, they had already hit $8000. But downloading the game cost no more than a dollar.
“I downloaded the game from Appstore,” the mother Maria Attvik said. “It cost 7 SEK ($1). Perhaps I didn’t read the fine print carefully enough, but I thought that was all to it.” The game is about tending to and watering the smurfberries to make them grow. What Maria didn’t realize was that the kids, once they were playing the game, could buy the berries themselves without having access to a password.
Attvik has contacted Apple asking to get her money back, but she has not heard back from them. The Smurfs’ Village game, sold by the Japanese company Capcom, has already been heavily criticized in the US and other countries. The berry purchases users make while playing the game is what creates revenue for the developer. The game has at times been the top grossing game for both iPhone and iPads, likely by inadvertent purchases by kids using their parents' gadgets. It’s nearly $5 for 50 berries, and gamers can spend as much as $59.99 for 1,000 of them.
A Swedish mom got the surprise of her life when she saw the receipt from her children’s playing the Smurfs’ Village game on their iPads: A total of $8000.