Devs unhappy with App Store promos for scam apps costing $676 a year

Devs unhappy with App Store promos for scam slime apps costing $676 a year

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App Store scam slime apps
Don't be fooled by these pricey slime simulators.
Photo: App Store

App Store users and developers are unhappy with Apple’s decision to promote a number of scam ASMR apps this week.

Some, which are clearly designed to try to fool unwitting children into handing over their parents’ cash, come with incredibly expensive weekly subscriptions that end up costing as much as AU$676 a year.

With more than 2 million apps now available from the App Store, it’s incredibly difficult for developers to get their titles noticed. It’s even harder to secure a spot in the App Store’s lucrative featured sections.

It’s no surprise, then, that developers and fans were upset when Apple this week decided to fill one of those sections in Australia with scam ASMR apps.

Scam ASMR apps get prime spot in App Store

“Did you know that slime is therapeutic to play with?” reads Apple’s blurb. “Kneading, poking and stretching that multi-colored goo can elicit instant brain and body tingles, and a sense of bliss.

“The downside? This gets messy real fast — counterproductive to your goal of relaxation. That’s where these apps come in.” Apple then promotes titles like Slime Games!!, Jelly: Slime Simulator, and Super Slim Simulator.

“This is infuriating,” tweeted Simeon, a developer with independent firm Two Lives Left, who downloaded some of the apps to find out exactly how they ended up in Apple’s spotlight. “How is Apple featuring these scams?”

“Apple promoting these slime apps again,” said Beau Nouvelle, another indie iOS developer. “A few of them have $10+ weekly subscriptions. One of them doesn’t even do anything…”

Before the subscription fees

It seems all the apps are pretty similar — they let you play with virtual slime … and that’s about it. Another thing they all have in common is that they charge outrageous subscription fees to unlock full access to their features.

One app, Jelly: Slime Simulator, offers a three-day free trial, then charges a whopping AU$12.99 a week. That’s almost $676 a year. Slime Games!! costs $8.99 a week ($468 a year), and Slime Boutique costs $4.49 a week ($233).

Given that no one in their right mind would pay that kind of money to play with virtual slime, the subscriptions and the apps themselves are quite clearly aimed at children, who likely don’t know what they’re signing up for.

It’s unclear how apps like these were selected for prime spots in the App Store’s featured section. But it suggests that whoever put this particular section together didn’t put a lot of effort into the vetting process.

What would Apple say?

Nouvelle told iMore that Apple’s decision to promote apps like these “turns the App Store into a joke … The active promotion of apps like this is just proof that Apple’s claims around App Store reviews being there for quality control and safety are just lies.”

We’re asked Apple for comment and we’ll update this article if we get a response.