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 IPHONE NEWS

Despite Capcom disclaimer, 8-year-old buys $1,400 worth of Smurfberries in Smurfs' Village

What a smurf

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
Despite new, stronger warnings in freemium iPhone game Smurf’s Village, it seems parents are still baffled when their darling offspring mistakenly spend thousands of dollars on digital doodads and virtual fruit.

The Washington Post has reported on one of the biggest iTunes bills yet: a whopping $1,400 spent on Smurfberries by eight-year-old Madison from Rockville. The berries are a virtual item in Capcom’s game, and they can be bought in buckets, barrels, bushels, wheelbarrows, and wagons.

The cost between £2.99 / $4.99 / €3.99 and £59.99 / €99.99 / €79.99, as in-app purchases.

Another kid, a second-grader from Arlington, went on a shopping trip of a lifetime, binging on stars, snowflakes, sea turtles and giraffes, in a $150 in-app purchase marathon through Tap Zoo. She’d figured out her mum’s password, like a wily seven-year-old hacker.

It’s easy enough to stop your child from rinsing your credit card on ethereal Smurf fruit. Purchases are password protected, and you can use the iPhone, iPod touc,h and iPad’s parental controls to turn off in-app purchases altogether.

You can bone up on parental controls, in our previous Smurf expose.

“But parents say changing those settings isn't easy or obvious,” the newspaper reports. One father thinks Apple should make parental controls the default setting, and a group of Danish parents thinks Apple should ban “credit card bait apps” altogether.

These outcries come despite the fact that Capcom clearly explains the real-money transactions in both the iTunes description, and a pop-up menu when you load the game.

“PLEASE NOTE: Smurf Village is free to play, but charges real money for additional in-app content. You may lock out the ability to purchase in-app content by adjusting your device’s settings,” Capcom writes on the game’s description.

What do you think? Are Capcom and Apple at fault for making in-app purchases too easy, or should parents be more vigilant of what their children are doing online? Let us know your thoughts in the comments beow.
 

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 10 February 2011
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