Parents sue Apple over in-app game charges

Wizerzak

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Apple is being sued by parents who claim the iPhone-maker is unfairly profiting from in-app payments in games aimed at children.



Many games on the iOS platform are free to download but offer game add-ons, some of which cost nearly £70. The group said it was too easy for children to run up big bills without "authorisation of their parents". Apple had called for the case to be dismissed, pointing out that in-app purchasing can now be disabled. However, US District Judge Edward Davila said the hearing could now go ahead.

Apple's purchasing system allows users to enter their credit-card details once and then authorise future payments for apps and other items with just a password. In a recent update to its iOS software, Apple added extra steps in the in-app purchasing process, including the requirement to enter an additional password to buy items within apps. It is now also possible to turn the feature off entirely. However, the group of parents, led by attorney Garen Meguerian, said children were still encouraged to buy items by the games' addictive nature, and parents might not be fully aware of the financial implications. Apple has not yet responded to requests for comment on the case.

Other mobile platforms, such as Google's Android, also offer in-app purchasing functions.

Smurfberry Shop

In a court filing first made in 2011, Mr Meguerian highlighted several titles which he believed were developed "strategically to induce purchases of Game Currency". Among them was Smurfs' Village, developed by Capcom. While the game itself is free, in-app purchases available in the "Smurfberry Shop" range from £2.99 to £69.99. A warning message in the game's description states that Smurfs' Village "charges real money for additional in-app content".

It is possible to play the game without spending money. However, progress is typically far slower for the player. One review of the game states: "You really wont get anywhere with just the free stuff."

In-app payments have been the subject of scrutiny in the US. Last year, the practice was investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission which ruled developers must do more to warn parents about the content of their games.

'Difficult steps'
In the UK, Niamh Bolton told the BBC she felt "physically sick" after learning her 10-year-old daughter had totted up a bill of more than £1,500 while playing Tap Pet Hotel. The game, developed by San Francisco-based Pocket Gems, is part of a wider "Tap" series which was also referred to in Mr Meguerian's court filing. Ms Bolton said the purchases, which were made before Apple added the in-app disabling feature, were made within two hours. "It was more than our monthly mortgage repayment," she told the BBC. "We didn't have that sort of spare cash in the bank account." She was able to get the money refunded after contacting Apple customer services. "The difficulty we had was contacting iTunes," she said. "I had to go through a series of very difficult steps to send an email to them."


:arrow: Source

So, they finally got a taste of their own medicine. :P I agree though, I haven't actually bought an micro-transactions on an iOS device, from looking at other services it is ridiculously easy to do so. I mean, you click the 'get me' button then one slip of the finger after that and BAM you've lost another £5.
 
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pyromaniac123

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Guessing the parents never heard of iapcracker.
 
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Guild McCommunist

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Would you mind adding a source?

But yeah, parent's, this ain't Apple's fault. It's your fault for being a dumbass and giving your kids an iDevice when they can't even learn to not buy thousands of dollars of fucking Smurfberries. And giving them access to your credit card info ON TOP OF THAT.
 
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finkmac

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The question is… Why did the children know the iTunes password? iTunes/iOS will automatically log out from the iTunes account after like 5 minutes… Which means the app would ask for a password…
 

RupeeClock

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Looking at the app screen posted of "WAGON OF SMURFBERRIES FOR $99.99", it's easy to understand how a particularly young child would be mistaken in thinking they were spending game money rather than an actual cash transaction.
I do mean particularly young, they're not going to fully understand these things.

Seriously they charge $99 for some in-game content on an iPhone app? That's OUTRAGEOUS.
 
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DinohScene

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Another pointless lawsuit towards Apple? I am not a big Apple fan, but come on, 99% of all these problems aren't even Apple's fault.

I must agree.

Parents can also be somewhat more firm towards their children.
The vast majority of 11 year olds nowadays have a computer+smartphone+ several other electronic devices.

All we had when we where 11 was a football and some friends
(atleast the majority of us)
 
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jalaneme

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this is what happens in the gaming industry only difference is the games are not for free (like on the app store) you have to pay up £40 a time, gamers should sue publishers trying to rip us off with DLC, online passes and locked disc content but when will this ever happen? it will just get worse and worse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h472NmF1HEQ
 

Wizerzak

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this is what happens in the gaming industry only difference is the games are not for free (like on the app store) you have to pay up £40 a time, gamers should sue publishers trying to rip us off with DLC, online passes and locked disc content but when will this ever happen? it will just get worse and worse.
Except you can play those games 'properly' without any DLC and the DLC requires a bit more than a few (2 or 3) button clicks to purchase.
 
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Qtis

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I'm surprised apple is the first to get sued for this. I thought facebook and zyang would of been sued first.
They're not, Stuff like this has been happening with MMOs for years now.
But in this case it's just a touch away, which is quite frankly easier than MMO transactions. Regardless, I don't see the need for this type of profiting, but then again who can be blamed, when the average cost people are willing to pay for mobile games and programs is around $1..
 
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