The European Commission has issued some words to Google and Apple about both companies’ steps to ensure children don’t rack up huge amounts of money on in-app purchases without their parents’ permission.
In a statement released by the Commission on Friday, Google is praised for a series of changes that will be put in effect by the end of September — while Apple finds itself on the receiving end of some harsh criticism.
If you’re an iOS gamer, chances are you’re fed up of games loaded to the gunwales with in-app purchases. The so-called “freemium” trend for games is annoying for two main reasons: One, in many cases it makes games virtually unplayable if you won’t shell out the extra cash for IAPs. Two, it’s misleading because the games aren’t really “free” at all, any more than you could say that it’s free to go to the theater, but you have to pay cash if you want to actually watch a movie.
It’s this second point that antitrust authorities in Italy are taken issue with, under the heading of unfair commercial practices. They’re investigating Apple, Google and Amazon, alongside French game developer Gameloft, for allegedly misleading customers by advertising mobile game apps as free, when they actually require purchases in order to be played beyond a certain point.
Has your child bankrupted you in Smurfberries? Had a child who maxed out your credit card on in-app purchases? Good news. Apple is now writing to some iTunes account holders, telling them they may be liable for a refund.
Are you a parent who nearly lost his or her mind and committed an act of infanticide when you discovered that your happy little sprog, in the space of five minutes playing unsupervised with your iPhone, somehow amassed an iTunes bill of over $1,000 in frickin’ Smurfberries? Well, Apple’s ready to help you, but even if you were only burnt for less than $30 because of the way in-app purchases used to work, Apple is ready to fork over a $5 iTunes gift card as a way o make amends… and settle a class-action lawsuit.
Asian messaging service Line, which has been a big success on iOS, turned over $58 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2013 with its new monetization model. But it’s just been dealt a massive blow by Apple.
The Cupertino company has unexplainably forced Line to remove its gift sharing feature, which allowed users to send stickers priced around $1.99 to their friends.
The game in this video is called Super Monster Bros By Adventure Time Pocket Free Games. Yep, that’s the entire title. Bodes well, doesn’t it? I bet you’re itching to play it. Sadly, though, you can’t. Apple’s already yanked it from the App Store. You probably didn’t want to play it anyway, though: it has to be the most shamelessly abusive examples of in-app purchases that mortal mind can comprehend.
Apple has made a small change to the way in which App Store age ratings are displayed to make them a little easier to find. They’re now displayed alongside app icons on iOS devices — just under the name of the developer — so they’re not so easy to miss when you’re downloading new apps.
Apple has quietly added a new labeling system to the App Store that shows which apps have in-app purchases. You can only see whether an app or game has in-app purchases on the desktop version of iTunes, but the feature will presumably be rolled out to the App Store on iOS devices soon.
Coincidentally, Apple recently settled a lawsuit with some parents over in-app purchases. Kids were spending thousands of dollars making in-app purchases in freemium games.
Kids love the iPad; download a few children’s games and it’ll keep them entertained for hours. But don’t leave them unsupervised too long, because it could cost you. Sharon and Greg Kitchen from Bristol, England, found that out the hard way when their five-year-old son Danny spent $2,550 on in-app purchases in just 10 minutes.