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Is Capcom's Smurfs' Village only top-grossing due to accidental in-app purchasing?

And how to prevent such an event happening in future

Summary News Review Screens Videos Articles Tips  
Product: Smurfs' Village | Developer: Beeline Interactive | Publisher: Capcom | Genre: Casual
For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
Smurfs' Village iPhone, thumbnail 1
Earlier today we reported the strange occurrence that childrens’ freemium title, Smurf’s Village was outselling Angry Birds due to the value of its in-app purchases.

While there does appear to be many who are happy with the app (4 stars from 1600+ reviews is usually a good barometer), comments from users left on our original story and left in the App Store suggested something else is also happening – young children accidentally purchasing the game’s currency, Smurfberries, without having to enter a password, thus causing the game to rocket up the charts.

One of the highest rated comments on the App Store from David Smout says of how ‘at no point was my password asked for’ while his son bought the virtual currency, nor was Pocket Gamer reader, 'Angry Jason', particularly thrilled, calling the app a ‘rip off and a fraud’.

Money for nothing

These purchases appear to be the result of a default setting in iOS that ignores the need for inputting passwords to download or purchase apps from the App Store for 15 minutes after having been typed in.

Naturally, this is handy if you’re downloading a ton of updates for apps, or grabbing the latest free downloads you’ve read about on Pocket Gamer, but not so great if your five year-old wants to grow their Smurf-tastic town immediately after you’ve downloaded it for them.

There is a warning message up on the App Store description for the game, warning parents and prospective buyers of this feature in the operating system, although from comments left by parents it's clear this is a new addition.

We have contacted Capcom for its reaction to the furore.

Bolt the stable door

For concerned parents out there, there is a way of disabling in-app purchases on all apps so that you won’t have to worry about this event occuring (as highlighted in the previous article’s comments thread by Emil Ovemar)
Within the ‘Restrictions’ menu of ‘Settings’ there should be an option called ‘In App Purchases’.

Turn this off, and instead of being presented with the option of buying some Smurfberries the app freezes up instead (other apps, like Gun Bros, handle it slightly better by coming up with a message explaining the restriction).


Reviewer photo
Will Wilson 16 November 2010
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Jul 2011
Post count:
jsb35 | 18:34 - 25 July 2011
My hit was for $568 this weekend due to the naivety of my 7 and 9 year old daughters, and myself not paying enough attention . I see the smug comments about "the toys parents allow their seven year old children to play with" and I certainly accept my lesson, but does this excuse the predatory and excessive charges of Capcom??? I think not.
May 2011
Post count:
Amsterdam | 21:19 - 30 May 2011
what is the email I can use to send apple a message. My daughter just bought for 122 euros of smurfberries

Mar 2011
Post count:
fxfoley | 03:07 - 31 March 2011
Where on the ipad can you go to complain? I cannot even find that.
Anonymous | 01:37 - 5 January 2011
yep, got me too. my five year old purchased 100.00 of smurf berries and apple did refund the amount after 30min on the phone. This is a rip...........
Anonymous | 11:55 - 27 December 2010
What a scam! Capcom uses the innocence of kids to empty parents pockets. 80€ for 2000 smurfberries.!?!?!? With only 2 clicks and nop password required... The buying of berries is also advertised heavily in the game. They make it hard to earn berries and everything kids like to build their village with costs berries. Alway more berries than they can earn. If I had not stopped my 5 year old from acquiring more, I might have had 50.000 berries and an empty bank account. This is really wrong and Apple should put a stop to this. Anyone interested in buying 2437 Berries? fire sale prices ;-)
Anonymous | 18:12 - 1 December 2010
The Smurf Berry problem I had was easily dealt with by contacting Apple and requesting a refund and changing settings.

My letter to Apple:

Dear Apple Representative,

Today my 8 year old son accidentally purchased appx. 72 dollars worth of smurf berries. He thought they were game “dollars” and came to me sobbing when he realized the cruel Capcom strategy. I have reset his setting to disallow in game purchases in the future.

Please refund/don’t charge my credit card and consider disallowing predatory gaming on the Ipod products. It makes parents feel uncomfortable with your on-line products.

Thank you,

The Twit

The Apple Reply:

Hi Twit,

I understand that your son did not mean to purchase these in-apps and you would like a refund for them. I can certainly appreciate how eager you must be to get this resolved! My name is Xxxx and I would be more than happy to help you out with this today.

I just want to take a moment here to clarify for you what you were actually charged for. The items that you were billed for are what are known as In-App purchases. These are paid enhancements for apps. Things like weapons, items, extra levels, and other enhancements are types of in-game purchases which often fall into this category, and this is what you actually purchased, most likely unintentionally. Later on in this email, I will give you some info on blocking these types of purchases on your device.

I have reversed the charge for which I understand you purchased unintentionally. In three to five business days, a credit of $71.98 should be posted to the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase.

You can set restrictions for the use of some applications and from in-app purchases from being made on your portable device.

To turn on and manage these restrictions:

1. On the Settings button on your device, choose General > Restrictions, then tap Enable Restrictions.

2. Enter a four-digit passcode.

3. Reenter the passcode.

To turn off restrictions: Choose General > Restrictions, then enter the passcode. Tap Disable Restrictions, then reenter the passcode.

If you forget your passcode, you must restore your iPhone software from iTunes. See “Updating and Restoring iPhone Software.

To set application restrictions: Set the restrictions you want by tapping individual controls on or off. By default, all controls are on (not restricted). Tap an item to turn it off and restrict its use.

You can also restrict In-App purchases by turning this feature off. When enabled, this feature allows you to purchase additional content or features within applications downloaded from the App Store, when turned off, no In-Apps can be purchased.

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding this issue, please let me know and I would be more than happy to address them for you. Thank you very much for being part of the iTunes Store family Tom, and I hope you have a great day.


Apple Advisor

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated.
Anonymous | 02:46 - 29 November 2010
5-yr old son purchased $150 in smurfberries on my iPod touch and it was NOT within 15 minutes of any iStore purchase.

It was weeks after downloading the app and 3 hours after any other AppStore download.

He does not know my password - and the app didnt ask for one!
The 15-min thing is a lie.
Anonymous | 20:42 - 25 November 2010
Absoultely Papa Smurf common knowledge and sense people dont get charged.

Anonymous | 17:47 - 22 November 2010
I see now they made it look free but charged money so apologies as above for the Smurfs Vilage comment.

However I still stand with the other comments that you pay for your entertainment and hapiness and the other stuff.
Anonymous | 17:21 - 22 November 2010
This is a buisness model

Instead of buying a game you give it free and put ads around it and put game upgrade purchases in.

THis is how the Papertoss developers (who are another developer cannot help someone get a game going with free advice) make $60,000 a month from ad profits and game upgrades.

Whos fault is it to give a kid a credit card when you dont ask what its for first?

Do you drive your car around moaning about the petrol?
No you go becaus you enjoy the drive and same for fREEMIUM GAME UPGRADES.

In FACT whenever I can find an honest coder or studio for my game conversion I intend to go that freemium rout to cut out hopefully 20 final years having to work a crappy job.
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