A game called Smurfs' Village is taking the iTunes App Store by storm, and if you can believe it, in just a short time it hasalready surpassed Angry Birds as the top-grossing iOS game. But there are real concerns about the game's purchasing system.
Smurfs' Village itself is a free download. The game makes its money by charging players for in-game currency known as Smurfberries. Your average adultought to be able toidentifyand knowinglyagreeto or declinemicrotransactions in the game, butchildren may be more easily duped, and that's where the controversy is coming from.
Apparently, here's what's happening: Dad goes into the App Store to download Smurfs' Village for his daughter. He logs into his iTunes account to trigger the download, then lets the daughter have at it. But to Dad's dismay, Apple iOS keepshim logged into his iTunes account for 15 minutes after the purchase, and unless he's disabled in-app purchases in his device's settings, his daughter can unwittingly rack up a hefty bill without ever being prompted for a password.
And we mean 'hefty.' One "bucket" of Smurfberries is$4.99. That's the lowest denomination. Three wheelbarrows of Smurfberries costs a stunning $59.99.
A recent review of the game on Apple.com reads, "Steer clear of this scam. Allows the user to spend a lot of real money without requiring a password. It should be removed from the app store."
Perhapsthe gameisn't doing anything technically disallowed by Apple, but itcertainlydoesn't appear to bemaking an effort to prevent children from buying its unusually expensive content without approval from their parents.
The game is published by Capcom, whichhasn't sent out an official reaction to the criticism. For now, though, it's earned the designation of highest-grossing iPhone game of all time...with a possibleasterisk.
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