'Smurfs' Village' iOS in-app purchases reportedly catch Apple's ire

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Comments

  • Reply 61 of 71
    stompystompy Posts: 395member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jb510 View Post


    Sorry but you couldn't be more wrong.




    Sorry jb, my reply was completely facetious, I was agreeing with you. Looks like I didn't put the smiley in the right place. My comment about no changes needed "since people already have one or more ways of preventing it" was basically a reaction to maestro64's rant.
  • Reply 62 of 71
    my kids don't want the food. they want the free toy. my kids are forcing me to buy them happy meals and contribute to the obesity epidemic.



    at night, i drop off my 8 year old in the bad part of town. oops, i meant that i let them surf the net unattended and unsupervised.



    you need a license to drive a car. they let anyone become a parent.
  • Reply 63 of 71
    tofinotofino Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    Top in app purchases

    1 bucket of s...$4.99

    2 bushel of s...$9.99

    3 barrel of s...$24.99

    4 bucket of s...$4.99

    5 bushel of s...$11.99

    6 wagon of s...$99.99

    7 wheelbarr...$49.99

    8 wheelbarr...$59.99

    9 barrel of s...$29.99



    Wow. That's brazen! It also seems that an army of drones has given the app thousands of five star reviews in just a week or so... It seems worthy of some investigation on apple's part.



    This seems more immoral to me than the bikini apps that were summarily removed.
  • Reply 64 of 71
    I thought that exchanging real money for virtual in-game money through in-app purchase is not allowed in AppStore. What else are those smurfberries other than virtual money ?



    Hope it gets removed from the AppStore, unless Apple needs to keep the number of applications available for the platform up.
  • Reply 65 of 71
    I'm the parent quoted in the article and I can assure you that I never downloaded the app.



    Smurf's Village initially caught my attention when it surpassed Angry Birds as the top grossing app in the App Store. I was surprised to see a free app listed as top grossing, so I checked it out. What caught my ire was:



    1. a free app could charge in-app purchases,

    2. the in app purchases were significantly large in value,

    3. the purchases were for accelerating progress in the game, not for game levels,

    4. there were so many brief comments giving the app a high rating.



    In app purchases from a free app

    The fact there were in app purchases in a free app caught my attention because I had been under the impression that free apps couldn't include in app purchases, as this was Apple's initial policy. I was unaware of the change, which was probably announced in one of license agreement updates that I never bother reading (really, does anyone?).



    Cost of in app purchases

    By now you have seen the purchase price for Smurf Berries. Assuming you can get by with a minimum purchase, is $4.99 something you would be willing to pay for such a game, let alone more? Five dollar games on the App Store are much better than this. Also, if the game is that good, why does it need to be free? Smelt like a scam to me.



    Paying to speed up the game is just plain wrong

    So I read more about the game and was further surprised that the Smurf Berries weren't to unlock levels; they were purely to speed up the game. This appeared to be a ploy to take advantage of either unsuspecting or game addicted users. Either way, it's wrong. And intelligence doesn't matter. You can say someone would have to be stupid to fall into this trap, but it doesn't make it right.



    What's up with the ratings?

    At this point I had already decided not to purchase the game for my son (he often plays on my iPhone. How many Blackberry owners can say that :-), but I was curious what people were saying about it, so I looked through the comments.



    The comments were what really led me to believe it was a scam. Don't take my word for it, read them yourself. There were hundreds of comments coming in daily and the vast majority were one or two words: "Dude", "Awesome", "Fun", "Great game". Currently the app has 7704 ratings. Compare that to Angry Birds, with 1291 ratings and each includes full sentences. They were clearly pumping up their ratings. What it also did was push the scathing parents comments several pages deep. At the time I had to go about 6 pages in to find the comments.



    I continued to check back on the app over the following months, always surprised to see it there and the comments continuing to flow in. Although I cannot say for certain that the comments were faked, it certainly looked that way. What I can say is that if it weren't for the constant stream of one work comments and high ratings, it would be obvious to any parent looking at the ratings that this game sucked and was a scam.



    I had notified Apple and eventually wrote to AppleInsider to find out whether something was known to me amiss. While I don't agree with the comments here blaming parents (I don't expect everyone to be a diligent as I am), I am thrilled to have read this article and see the ensuing discussion.



    As for what I would like from Apple? I would like them to restore the "No in app purchases for free apps" policy. If an app can charge money for something, why wouldn't someone pay the minimum $.99 to get it? I also agree that in app purchases should have separate authentication from the App Store download one.



    As a final note, forget Apple, ask what Peyo and IMPS, owners of the Smurfs copyright are doing about this. Surely this is bad publicity for the Smurfs franchise, especially considering the movie coming out later this year. If I had been ripped off, I would seriously consider boycotting the movie (but I was a fan when I was kid, so I won't :-).



    Oh, and I can assure you that my son is very intelligent and gets plenty of exercise, despite playing on my iPhone. He's the one with the six pack, not me! Maybe I should spend less time reading about apps and get out a little more instead.
  • Reply 66 of 71
    I should add that initially there was no warning to parents about the in-app purchases. This was added around late December.
  • Reply 67 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    And if the child in question is 4 years old? Good luck trying to teach them not to click on the pretty smurfberry they need to expand their Smurf village. I wonder if you've ever been a parent. It's a lot easier to criticize than actually do.



    Are you a parent?



    I am, I have 4 iOS devices and I have a 4 yr old, a 3yr old and a 3 month old. These devices are often in the hands of the kids (minus the little one). Parents who let kids play with their devices should be aware this can cause damage, dropping it or if parents are too careless, extra charges on their accounts.



    I have the Smurf Village app and I love it. I will admit I have bought Smurf-berries for myself but my wife does not want to. You can earn them in the game and you can totally use the game uncrippled without them. The in-app purchase gives you extra content that makes it more addictive ... lol



    I do not blame Capcom for this and if Apple wants to refund to the parents then they are setting a bad example to their customers and making it look like someone is in the wrong.



    I have an older nephew with an iOS device and his iTunes account was setup using a gift Visa and then loaded with iTunes gift cards afterwards or other gift Visa cards. This limits his use to what he can use. Perfect for a teenager.



    There are responsible ways as an adult to manage your kids. Don't blame Apple and developers.
  • Reply 68 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    In app purchases from a free app

    The fact there were in app purchases in a free app caught my attention because I had been under the impression that free apps couldn't include in app purchases, as this was Apple's initial policy. I was unaware of the change, which was probably announced in one of license agreement updates that I never bother reading (really, does anyone?).



    This is your opinion about free apps offering in-app purchases. Tap Zoo is worse for this and it shows because it not really used as much as the Smurfs. I respect your opinion but I like the option. It allows me to play the game to see if I like it. Not all developers make LITE versions of their apps. If I don't like the game I don't do in-app purchases.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    Cost of in app purchases

    By now you have seen the purchase price for Smurf Berries. Assuming you can get by with a minimum purchase, is $4.99 something you would be willing to pay for such a game, let alone more? Five dollar games on the App Store are much better than this. Also, if the game is that good, why does it need to be free? Smelt like a scam to me.



    Again your opinion but I purchased them because I wanted to. My Smurf Village has over 10 friends who also play the game I have not heard any complaints from them either. Again your opinion. Don't buy if you don't like. Don't compare one experience (ie app) to another. There are apps that I have paid for that are way over $10 and very worth it. Some content is worth more to people than others.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    Paying to speed up the game is just plain wrong

    So I read more about the game and was further surprised that the Smurf Berries weren't to unlock levels; they were purely to speed up the game. This appeared to be a ploy to take advantage of either unsuspecting or game addicted users. Either way, it's wrong. And intelligence doesn't matter. You can say someone would have to be stupid to fall into this trap, but it doesn't make it right.



    Who are you to say that to speed up the game is wrong. Who says the pace of the free game is a regular pace. Smurf-berries does unlock other things that you normally can't get. You do gain smurf-berries in game but not nearly enough to do everything. So it does give you the ability to unlock other stuff. Some is stupid to fall in that trap? Now you are being judgemental. My money, my entertainment, don't judge.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    What's up with the ratings?

    At this point I had already decided not to purchase the game for my son (he often plays on my iPhone. How many Blackberry owners can say that :-), but I was curious what people were saying about it, so I looked through the comments.



    The comments were what really led me to believe it was a scam. Don't take my word for it, read them yourself. There were hundreds of comments coming in daily and the vast majority were one or two words: "Dude", "Awesome", "Fun", "Great game". Currently the app has 7704 ratings. Compare that to Angry Birds, with 1291 ratings and each includes full sentences. They were clearly pumping up their ratings. What it also did was push the scathing parents comments several pages deep. At the time I had to go about 6 pages in to find the comments.



    I left a comment saying Smurf-tastic. I guess I am part of that scam. Also how hard is it to get more ratings from users than Angry Birds when Angry Birds is a $5 dollar app (and you criticized that price point as well) and Smurfs is free. Lets see how many more people will play a game that is free vs one that costs $5. I won't say more.



    Bottom line, you were an smart parent for limiting your child to this and not exposing yourself to a problem. But why would you want to investigate a app that is free. What is your time for that. Play it. Check it out for yourself. If you don't like it, delete it. But that is my opinion and I won't judge you for investigating and making a really long post. Because HEY, I am doing it too! My opinion right. Guess that is the great thing about this world. People at different ends.



    But I will still stay true to my other post. Don't blame Capcom or Apple. Even if I don't agree with rgfsteed about their view with the Smurf app, they were definitely responsible parents.
  • Reply 69 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aurchon View Post


    Who are you to say that to speed up the game is wrong.



    Fair enough. But I still think it's a underhanded tactic. Especially for a game aimed at kids (note that Capcom lists it under their kids games). When they did their market research, how many "kids" do you think they found who could afford to spend $100 on Smurf berries?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aurchon View Post


    It allows me to play the game to see if I like it. Not all developers make LITE versions of their apps.



    Developers will do just fine without this option. If they want you to have a free version to try the software they can make one available. I've downloaded plenty of free apps that link to their paid version. This also speaks to my point about what you're paying for. I think it's reasonable to charge for something new, not to simply get through the game.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aurchon View Post


    Also how hard is it to get more ratings from users than Angry Birds when Angry Birds is a $5 dollar app.



    Angry Birds is a $.99 app, not $5 dollars. The minimum purchase of Smurf berries is $4.99.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aurchon View Post


    Bottom line, you were an smart parent for limiting your child to this and not exposing yourself to a problem. But why would you want to investigate a app that is free. What is your time for that. Play it. Check it out for yourself. If you don't like it, delete it.



    Actually, had I come across the app some other way I may have done exactly as you suggest. Rather, I came across it on the top grossing list. As I described earlier, this made me suspicious. Since observing this I check every free app to see whether it has in app purchases. If it does and they are of this type I won't bother downloading them.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aurchon View Post


    Don't blame Capcom or Apple.



    I don't blame Capcom or Apple, just like I don't blame Microsoft for leaving Windows so insecure that you can't use it without a virus scanner. But as others have pointed out, Apple applies their rules to make the system more valuable to the user. It is simply my opinion that removing the opportunity to make money this way doesn't take any real value away from developers unless they are deliberately trying to scam users, but it does provide tremendous value to the consumer who wants to know it can't happen to them.



    If I wanted a free-for-all system I would jailbrake my iPhone or buy an Android phone. I like the restrictions Apple puts on developers because it makes the product and services more predictable.



    It's not a matter of blame, it's a matter of trust.
  • Reply 70 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    Fair enough. But I still think it's a underhanded tactic. Especially for a game aimed at kids (note that Capcom lists it under their kids games). When they did their market research, how many "kids" do you think they found who could afford to spend $100 on Smurf berries?



    I don't know many kids that know about Smurfs. Smurfs was something for kids in the 80's via cartoon. Were not released on DVD till 2008. I do not see alot of kids playing this game because they associate with the Smurfs. In fact I know lots of people that play this game and they are all adults.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    Developers will do just fine without this option. If they want you to have a free version to try the software they can make one available. I've downloaded plenty of free apps that link to their paid version. This also speaks to my point about what you're paying for. I think it's reasonable to charge for something new, not to simply get through the game.



    You missed where I said it also unlocks content. Not just gets you thru the game.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    Angry Birds is a $.99 app, not $5 dollars. The minimum purchase of Smurf berries is $4.99.



    You are right, currently it is 0.99 cents but it was 1.99 for the iPhone. Also there are four different versions of Angry all which you have to pay for seperately including the $4.99 HD iPad version. Smurfs work for both iPhone and iPad and I do not have to buy it seperately. It also does the seasons for me without have to pay for that either.



    I decided to look at the reviews for Angry Birds

    iPhone Regular - almost 41,000 reviews

    iPhone (free) - 349 reviews

    iPhone Seasons - 3407 reviews

    iPad Regular - 1756 reviews

    iPad Seasons - 533 reviews

    iPad Free - 12 reviews



    All together is WAY more than Smurfs (which is actually just over 20,000). Just the regular app blows away the Smurfs.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    Actually, had I come across the app some other way I may have done exactly as you suggest. Rather, I came across it on the top grossing list. As I described earlier, this made me suspicious. Since observing this I check every free app to see whether it has in app purchases. If it does and they are of this type I won't bother downloading them.



    Until you play it you shouldn't criticize it then. Especially since you had some of your facts wrong, especially the reviews.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    I don't blame Capcom or Apple, just like I don't blame Microsoft for leaving Windows so insecure that you can't use it without a virus scanner. But as others have pointed out, Apple applies their rules to make the system more valuable to the user. It is simply my opinion that removing the opportunity to make money this way doesn't take any real value away from developers unless they are deliberately trying to scam users, but it does provide tremendous value to the consumer who wants to know it can't happen to them.



    Hmmm I blame both Apple and Microsoft for leave security holes in my software. But for the record Windows is not problem when it comes to viruses. I have an Apple computer but I also use a Windows partition and before my Apple computer I never ran an anti-virus program. If you are educated and use the internet in an educated manner (not everyones fault, I do not expect everyone to be tech savvy as me) then you do not need one.



    But as for the developers they are taking value away from us, I don't agree. I feel they give us value by giving us the app for free. Then left you to decide if you want the in-app content. Use it, disable it or ignore it. Those are three options for public to enjoy vs "You can not have in-app purchases" which will only satisfy people that agree with you. Having options is better than having no options. Also in my opinion the Apple Eco System is for both the developers to make money (so they make apps) and for the consumers. You piss one off and then you imbalance the system.



    Playstation and Xbox both show that add-ons for your games are valued. Already a proven system. Maybe this system just needs to be tweaked.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    It's not a matter of blame, it's a matter of trust.



    Trust? Games are for fun. I guess there is a level of trust involved but Capcom in this case used all Apple's API's (they are not allowed to make their own) following the rules of development, put full disclosures (did a better job recently I will admit but they worked to address the issue) but if you want to put trust in the equation then you shouldn't be going on about the Smurfs. Go on about Apple and the 15 minute window that they have left for "abuse". That would violate trust.



    So going back to the balance, maybe Apple should adjust the time of 15 minutes. A few other posts made comments of making options for setting time restrictions, always ask or don't ask for the iTunes password. Options are better than no options



    Again all your opinions vs mine.
  • Reply 71 of 71
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rgfsteed View Post


    As for what I would like from Apple? I would like them to restore the "No in app purchases for free apps" policy. If an app can charge money for something, why wouldn't someone pay the minimum $.99 to get it? I also agree that in app purchases should have separate authentication from the App Store download one.



    This is likely impossible given the new subscription in-app purchases. The apps are always going to be containers for the sole purpose of delivering subscribed content.
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