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).