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'Free' Games Dominate Top-Grossing Game List On App Store

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the for-sufficiently-unfree-values-of-free dept.

Businesses 161

An anonymous reader writes "Why are there so many free games listed in the top 10 grossing games over in Apple's App Store? Because some feature exorbitant in-app purchase fees for virtual items. Quoting ZDNet: 'Developing "free" games aimed specifically at children, and then bundling ridiculously priced in-app purchases inside those "free" games feels scammy to me. Sure, it's not illegal, and it's not against Apple's developer terms and conditions, but Apple is a company that prides itself in protecting users from harm. Most of the game developers do make an attempt to warn users that the game "changes real money for additional in-app content" but it's a lame attempt. It's easily missed, and kids aren't going to read it anyway.'"

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If kids have your iTunes account password ... (2)

_Chris_ (35156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37916948)

... seems to me there's a lot more to worry about than in-app purchases.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917008)

such as?

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918224)

Such as buying a lot of stuff. It's like letting your kid play on Amazon.com when you have One-Click purchasing turned on.

Apple has parental controls and iTunes passwords to prevent people accidentally/maliciously buying stuff on your device.

It must be a slow news day (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917090)

or that people have run out of valid things to complain and now they are complaining of free games with OPTIONAL in game items which cost money.

Re:It must be a slow news day (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917386)

That depends who these free games are targeted at, how much this optional stuff costs, and how essential it is to play the game. Smurf Village (for example) is aimed at 4+ year olds yet allows kids to purchase in game items with real money. Not pocket money either. A "wheelbarrow of smurfberries" costs $60 and can be had with a few taps. It's not the only example and I suspect most of these free games operate along similar lines. That's simply unconscionable exploitation by the game operator and bad design by Apple (and Google) for allowing it to happen at all through their system.

I think at the very least a user should be required to enter a password at least once at the start of a session and per purchase outside of a 15 minute window in any 16 rated game that offers in-app purchases. Better yet Apple (and Google Marketplace) should impose per-app limits on the amount of purchases that may be made in such game, e.g. $10 within any 24 hours and require account holders to manually remove this limit. That would at least limit the damage and would curb the worst excesses of these scummy games.

Re:It must be a slow news day (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917396)

Correction - that "in any 16 rated game " was meant to read with a < i.e. "in any < 16 rated game " but /. stripped it out

Re:It must be a slow news day (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918434)

or that people have run out of valid things to complain and now they are complaining of free games with OPTIONAL in game items which cost money.

While spending real money is optional to simply play the game, it's not always optional if you want to actually finish the game. I've played some games like Pumpkins vs Monsters [apple.com] where you'd have to play hundreds of hours to beat the game unless you pay real $$$ because a level will only give you ~100-300 gold but a single upgrade is 10,000+ gold.

It's not impossible to win but almost. Imagine playing Half Life but health, additional lives and weapons cost real money, you're left to run around with whatever health you start with and a crowbar. Could you win? Highly unlikely.

Then you have games like Smurfs' Village [apple.com] and Order & Chaos [apple.com] who have $99 in app purchases [time.com] (here's another example) [pocketgamer.co.uk]

I agree something should be done since these games don't really fall in the "free" category.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (4, Informative)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917342)

You don't need the password to make in game purchases (in the default configuration of iOS). You need the password to install the game.

The mechanic for in-game purchases is a cynical, well engineered, well researched hook [insertcredit.com] .

The OS establishes a precedent - that privileged actions like installing apps require a password - and then goes on to breach that precedent in a kids game for actions that spend real money in large gobs, with single clicks.

It's like combining a daycare centre with a nuclear launch control facility. Getting past the door guards requires a security check. But the launch control console has been cunningly disguised as Whack-A-Mole.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

taoareyou (2468090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917410)

There is an option on my iPhone to restrict in-app purchases. You can password protect this option. I turned the option to make in app purchases off anyway and I have no children using it. If I want to pay for an app, I will buy one that is up front about the price. I never make in app purchases. Ever. But I have purchased many apps.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918444)

There is an option on my iPhone to restrict in-app purchases. You can password protect this option. I turned the option to make in app purchases off anyway and I have no children using it. If I want to pay for an app, I will buy one that is up front about the price. I never make in app purchases. Ever. But I have purchased many apps.

As the GP said, "in the default configuration of the OS". GM cars have an option to turn off their headlights. Doing so would save money on gasoline spent on turning the alternator load, small money sure, but this is America we're talking about, if you can save $2 per year "turning off lights" in your house... anyway, look around, how many GM car owners do you see utilizing this money saving configuration option?

Almost everybody runs default settings. Most people don't even know they can be changed.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918928)

That's the worst example I've ever read. Admittedly you were trying to shoehorn in a car analogy, kudos for that, but the reason you don't see people with their lights disabled is because it's illegal and a massive safety issue, not because people can't figure out how to do it. Seriously, there must be a million better examples you could have used.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

funfail (970288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919830)

...and headlights are not on by default...

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (5, Informative)

_Chris_ (35156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917748)

You do need the password to make in-app purchase since iOS 4.3. Apple did listen to parents complaints. Your comment is true for older versions however.

"We are proud to have industry-leading parental controls with iOS," said Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple. She said users have always been able to use parental control setting and restrictions of in-app purchases to protect their iTunes accounts from accidental charges. "With iOS 4.3, in addition to a password being required to purchase an app on the App Store, a reentry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase."
(http://www.macrumors.com/2011/03/10/ios-4-3-requires-password-reentry-for-in-app-purchases/)

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918010)

I was torn between rating you "+1000 Informative", or posting "Hey! Everybody else! Read that, then shut up forever. The problem is (now) demonstrably with the parents". Ranting won out, as you can see.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918460)

Still, that window of opportunity spawned a whole load of exploitative software. Glad it's closed now.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918802)

No it didn't, because there never was a window. Prior to iOS 4.3, and contrary to what _Chris_ said, passwords were still required for in-app purchases. The change that 4.3 made was that for in-app purchase it removed the 15 minute grace period after you entered your password before you had to enter it again. Prior to that, if a parent entered their password to install a game, a kid would then have a 15 minute period where they could make in-app purchases. After 4.3, in-app purchases require a password, no matter what. There never was a time when kids could make any in-app purchases they wanted without needing to have a password entered at some point.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919102)

15 minute hole... top grossing apps in the store. When I sold my Palm OS game, most purchasers didn't realize it was shareware and paid the $9 by entering their credit card number into PalmGearHQ. I made it plain on my website that payment was at the discretion of the user and gave clear instructions on how to download, but PalmGear's marketing was less explicit about how shareware worked and lots of people paid for the app before they realized it was optional.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919364)

15 minute hole... top grossing apps in the store.

[citation needed]

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918666)

Not quite accurate, you've clearly never tried it. The OS version levels that added that minor protection still buffers the password for an unknown and hidden amount of time. So parent installs $GAME, kid runs $GAME, and the buffered password allows direct in-game purchases without further prompting.

Apple are making a fortune out of this devious loophole, and they won't close it. iOS purchases is now their cash cow, their business needs it.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919766)

Apple makes big bucks selling iPhones, and their primary source of income is repeat customers. There is no way they would make more money by leaving such a loophole open. Such a move would alienate too many customers.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918032)

You need the password to make an in-app purchase. You have always needed the password. There is a 15-minute grace period, so if you entered the password 14 minutes ago, you don't have to enter it again. They have recently shortened that grace period for in-app purchases to almost zero.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918728)

You can also set Restrictions in the Settings>General area. This allows you to turn off In-App purchases all together or to require a password either at 15 minutes or Immediately.

So don't give your kid an expensive device that has a chance to be more expensive unless you put on parental controls. That's just good parenting.

I mean really, they give you the "freedom" to do what you want and you complain it's too easy. Take some responsibility!

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918744)

What you say sounds very interesting, except for the fact that it's not based in fact. Slashdot covered it [slashdot.org] when Apple changed their password requirements earlier this year. Prior to then, in-app purchases still required a password, but they could piggyback on a password entered for something else since there was a 15 minute grace period after entering a password before it needed to be entered again.

Here's some of what I wrote then in relation to how it used to work:

As I recall from the last in-app purchase I made, it's actually a rather jarring break (intentionally so, I believe), and is not nearly as integrated as you claim. You have to go through a few rounds of pop-up notifications, each one saying that you WILL be charged, dictating the amount, and asking whether or not you are certain, not to mention that someone has to enter the password at least that first time (and now, every time). It's pretty far from One-Click type of transactions, and it breaks out of the UI for whatever app you're in, so it should be apparent what is happening.

Since then, it's required a password for every single in-app purchase (which is quite annoying). So, unless you're handing over your password to your child, in which case you should also accept full responsibility for any charges made, there's no way that your analogies make any sense. It doesn't establish precedent and then break it, there is no way around the security, and you do need a password for in-app purchases.

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Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918550)

Credit cards and children have been around for a long time. It's your own fault if you're incapable of raising your kids properly. Please don't shift the blame onto "society".

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918874)

I would have a hard time imagining my four year old trying to use my credit card, but a button that appears while playing a game on my phone could easily be hit and apparently significant charges incurred.

And no - it isn't society's fault. It is my choice whether to allow my children to play games on my phone or not.

That being said - whether I can safely let me children use my phone/tablet/media player without incurring large costs might be a factor in me choosing which device I purchase. I don't want to have to guard my phone in my own house so my kids don't pick it up and start making crazy purchases.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918878)

This is not necessarily a failure on the parents' part. My two year old nephew watched his mother purchase and download a game for him onto the iPod on two separate occasions and now can do it himself in under a minute. So, yes, there does need to be controls in place to protect parents from this.

Re:If kids have your iTunes account password ... (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919012)

For about $5 you can get a pre-paid [insert credit card brand] and tie that to your iTunes account if you're going to let your kids mess around with it.

Just like "free" phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37916952)

The sticker price is zero, but it's subsidized by ridiculous texting and data fees, in part by every user on the network.

Re:Just like "free" phones? (2)

tumnasgt (1350615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917650)

Indeed, but it's pretty damn hard for a 6 year old to walk into a Verizon store and walk out with a $100/month plan. Making an in app purchase is very easy, and doesn't always require verification of the user. The problem isn't the in app purchasing, it's the fact it's used in app targeted at kids that don't understand that they are spending real money.

Re:Just like "free" phones? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919810)

Actually, all the contracts I've seen only require you to keep the voice plan. You could turn off data and texting if you wanted to. This will send you back to the '90s, but it's still an option.

Setup parental controls now (4, Insightful)

Que_Ball (44131) | more than 2 years ago | (#37916956)

Even if you leave every other setting unlocked you should go in and setup parental controls on your device to block in app purchasing. Do it now before you head out to the restaurant and you load up something to keep the kids amused not realizing that because you just finished downloading it your itunes account is still unlocked and the kids can buy whatever they want without a password for the next few minutes.

Even if you don't have kids of your own, you might be out with friends or family that do and your generous act of amusing the kids turns expensive.

Re:Setup parental controls now (2)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917122)

I don't let any device I own save purchasing info -it's just asking for trouble. It helps you save money anyway because entering in the info each time makes you consider if you really want that song or game that will only bring a couple minutes' joy.

Re:Setup parental controls now (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919060)

iPhones required entry every time, but gave a 15 minute grace period that wasn't configurable. Now it's configurable, but I don't know how many parents know about it.

Download auth can't be reused for in app purchase (4, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917160)

... you load up something to keep the kids amused not realizing that because you just finished downloading it your itunes account is still unlocked and the kids can buy whatever they want without a password for the next few minutes ...

I believe Apple updated iOS so that the authorization for the free download could not be used to authorize an in app purchase. The in app purchase requires its own authorization.

Re:Download auth can't be reused for in app purcha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917300)

Problem with that is so many iDevices are jailbroken these days and people won't update them since doing so would un-jailbreak them (requiring a new jailbreak, possibly triggering reinstallation of apps, loss of settings, etc).

This further reinforces the fact the locked down devices that need to be jailbroken are hindering security in much the same way that MS blocks security updates on "non-genuine" Windows installations. The OS is kept unpatched so as to preserve the "jailbreak", leaving the device vulnerable to the latest attacks.

The real problem in this instance are devices that need to be jailbroken in the first place. The device should not care from where it gets service from. Other than customer lock-in, there is no valid reason for locking devices to a specific carrier. I'm glad I live in the EU where this practice is uncommon. Here, I can buy my device from anyone I choose, and use it with whatever service I choose. Just change the SIM card.

Re:Download auth can't be reused for in app purcha (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919034)

Problem with that is so many iDevices are jailbroken these days.....[blah blah blah]

You jailbreak your kid's iPhone?

Re:Setup parental controls now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917514)

you head out to the restaurant and you load up something to keep the kids amused

Or you could, you know, treat them like human beings and interact with them yourself.

Re:Setup parental controls now (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918308)

What? Actually spend f2f time with you own flesh and blood? Is it some kind of belated Halloween joke? Someone stop this madness from spreading.

Re:Setup parental controls now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918138)

Thanks... Little late now... I actually managed to get Apple to give me a refund for an in App purchase even though they dont refund app store purchases according to their policy. They advised exactly what you did.

Its a good system (1)

satuon (1822492) | more than 2 years ago | (#37916962)

That way you can still play the game for free. You don't have to purchase anything in the app if you don't want to.

Re:Its a good system (1)

ron-l-j (1725874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917218)

I agree free is good, but in some cases you can spend a bunch of cash or spam everyone on the internet just to make the game playable after a few levels are completed. android GLU mobile games are the worst for this.

Apple isn't a parenting service! (4, Insightful)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 2 years ago | (#37916964)

I find it hard to blame Apple for this problem when parents are giving their unsupervised children an iDevice with credit card information.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (3, Interesting)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917050)

Agreed. Remember the 1990s? All the 900 numbers advertised to kids in commercials? This is the same deal. The people that setup these things deserve to be flayed, but it's the responsibility of parents to teach their kids responsibility.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

cfryback (870729) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917184)

+ 100

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917192)

99% of "computer" users are dumb when it comes to IT, it's a sad fact.
Most do not even realize that there are such features until it's too late, and they probably would not know where to disable this until then either.

Just like I think 900 numbers should be disabled unless the subscriber specifically enable them, as should in-game purchase settings be set to disabled by default.

Additionally it might be an idea for Apple and other resellers to create the concept of "sub accounts" for the kids, where they either can't make purchases at all, or can have a pre-paid account which can only be replenished from the "master account". Oddly enough, everybody's favourite whipping-boy, Sony PSN, already have this, more or less...

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (3, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917492)

99% of "computer" users are dumb when it comes to IT, it's a sad fact.

No, it's not a fact. It's an urban legend perpetrated by geeks so they can feel superior to others. I've seen people with no computer knowledge whatsoever get their first PC and get familiar with it, and while they aren't IT experts, "dumb" doesn't describe it correctly. What they have is a different attitude - to them the machine has a purpose, it's not a toy by itself, they care about learning its fine details as much as most average geeks care about the difference between buckshot and birdshot and how to clean a shotgun blindfolded.

Additionally it might be an idea for Apple and other resellers to create the concept of "sub accounts" for the kids, where they either can't make purchases at all, or can have a pre-paid account which can only be replenished from the "master account". Oddly enough, everybody's favourite whipping-boy, Sony PSN, already have this, more or less...

As does Apple: http://www.apple.com/itunes/inside-itunes/2010/11/using-itunes-allowances-with-your-kids.html [apple.com]

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918028)

"dumb" doesn't describe it correctly. What they have is a different attitude - to them the machine has a purpose, it's not a toy by itself, they care about learning its fine details as much as most average geeks care about the difference between buckshot and birdshot and how to clean a shotgun blindfolded.

See, when you brought guns into the metaphor, you fell right on your face. Because if you're going to go out hunting with your shotgun, you had better fucking know the difference between buck shot and bird shot, and a lot more things besides, like which choke to use with a slug, and indeed, how to clean the weapon, though how to do it blindfolded is probably not necessary; ducks aren't going to shoot you if you flip on a flashlight. People use computers without knowing the equivalent, to their detriment. People use guns without knowing what they're doing, too, and sometimes manage to blow them up in the process.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918232)

ducks aren't going to shoot you if you flip on a flashlight.

You're doing it wrong. Turn your flashlight on, point it at a duck, walk towards them, and knock them over the head with it.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

El Royo (907295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918198)

Is it just me or does the fact that their allowance program has a -minimum- purchase of $10 per month seem a bit ridiculous? Damned if I'm going to give a young child $10 per month to spend on games and in-app purchases. If Apple really wanted to make it useful for parents it would have a $1 minimum. Instead, it's about pulling more money.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918252)

The minimum of $10 is probably a threshold negotiated w/ the credit card companies so as to make it worth their while.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (2)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919040)

$10 a month minimum is perfectly reasonable.

First: If you aren't giving a young child $10 worth of entertainment budget a month you're a goddamn monster. That's less than most toys, and far less than a couple of movie rentals or what-have-you.

Second: If you can't afford $10 a month, you shouldn't be having kids.

Third: Having such a budget will invariably teach the child something about budgeting and responsibility.

Fourth and last, if you can't afford $10 a month... forget kids *Why do you have a luxury tech gadget?*

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919240)

"dumb" doesn't describe it correctly.

Yes, yes it does.

What they have is a different attitude - to them the machine has a purpose, it's not a toy by itself

Play is the best way to learn. If you get a new tool, and your first reaction isn't "Sweet, let's see what this thing can do!", you're probably dumb. If you learn a tool, any tool, by simple rote memorization of the tasks you need to do, instead of understanding the theory behind the usage, then you're dumb.

they care about learning its fine details as much as most average geeks care about the difference between buckshot and birdshot and how to clean a shotgun blindfolded.

If you're going hunting and you don't know what sort of shot you're using and why, you're dumb. If you use a computer for a living and don't know how to open a text file, you're dumb.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918160)

as should in-game purchase settings be set to disabled by default.

Go. To. Hell.

I don't have kids, and you have absolutely no right to fuck up my experience on the device because you can't control your fucking kids.

Apple has amazing parental controls, the best I have ever seen for a phone or music player. Parent's that are unwilling or unable to control their children can fuck right off.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

luisdom (560067) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917862)

See, i have a 2 yr old daughter. I purchased Talking Tom, which is a f***ing talking cat. A simple toy, with which she laughs a lot. I checked every option, no risk invovled. I've seen that now, in-game, you can buy him glasses for 1$ a piece. Should I check every update if they've added scam features? That's why I paid apple "no-worry" premium?
It's a game specifically targeted for children, and frankly, you don't want parents to supervise every minute of their children's wake time; they grow assholes.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918200)

I find it hard to believe that people assume it's the kids doing all the purchasing. If someone is willing to pay a £45 a month line rental for an iPhone, then a couple of quid here and there for an app store purchase (or an in game purchase), isn't that much of a stretch. Whilst you might hear a number of scare stories about children running up bills on their parents phones, the stories you won't hear, are from those individual 'whales' that actually make freemium a profitable business model.

Re:Apple isn't a parenting service! (1)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919032)

Erm, did you see the post further up the page regarding the $99 in app purchase in smurf village? This is a kids game aimed at four year olds. No excuse there whatsoever.

re: (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37916990)

"but Apple is a company that prides itself in protecting users from harm"

Whoa, what?
Look, I'm not trying to attack anybody here, but that's an incredibly stupid statement. Apple doesn't really care whether its customers come to harm, and neither do Google or Microsoft or any other comparable companies anybody can come up with. Liability and profit are the only concerns. As long as it doesn't cost them anything, they don't care whether or not you get completely screwed over, destroyed, etc.
Utter nonsense.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917162)

You must be one of these assholes who think Steve Jobs was not a Saint.

Re: (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917406)

"but Apple is a company that prides itself in protecting users from harm"

Apple doesn't really care whether its customers come to harm

Doesn't mean they can't still pride themselves of protecting it's users.
It's called "Lying" but you might be more familiar with the synonymous term "Marketing".

Re: (2)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917438)

Bullshit. A screwed over, destroyed customer is not a return customer. Despite any policies on hardware lockdown or software distribution, none of the companies you mention have any interest in screwing or destroying their customers. Fuck, AC, why do I even bother?

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919244)

Yeah, nobody who bought an iPhone 4 and couldn't make phone calls on it is still a rabid Apple fanatic. That's a real thing, for sure.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918230)

Look, I'm not trying to attack anybody here, but that's an incredibly stupid statement. Apple doesn't really care whether its customers come to harm, and neither do Google or Microsoft or any other comparable companies anybody can come up with. Liability and profit are the only concerns. As long as it doesn't cost them anything, they don't care whether or not you get completely screwed over, destroyed, etc.

No. You assume that whoever runs those companies acts in the interest of short term profit for the company alone.
This may or may not be correct but most likely everyone involved have different goals.
If a company is run by a person who for example doesn't like ponies then the company as a whole will act in a way that is pony unfriendly.
Are you so sure that there are no-one important in the Apple organization that wants Apple to be a company that prides itself in protecting users from harm that you are willing to call that statement stupid?
The only stupid thing with the statement is that it considers companies to have intentions. Companies are just the tools of whoever runs them. Whatever the person in charge wishes the company will do. Stop thinking of companies as individuals because that way of thinking removes liability from the people behind the company.

Re: (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919662)

Apple doesn't really care whether its customers come to harm... Liability and profit are the only concerns.

Derr. And guess which news story they don't want floating around. I'll give you a hint, they did a very quick update when the Smurf Berries thing came around.

The world is full of sharks... (1)

emanem (1356033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37916992)

...just watch out you and your cubs don't swim too far away form the reef.

Cheers!

Because you reminded me of it: (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917430)

"Let's cut to the chase. There are two kinds of people: sheep and sharks. Anyone who's a sheep is fired. Who's a sheep?"

"Errr, excuse me... which is the one people like to hug? "

"Gutsy question. You're a shark. Sharks are winners, and they don't look back, because they don't have necks. Necks are for sheep. I am proud to be the shepherd of this herd of sharks!"

Remember Habbo Hotel? (2)

Sigvatr (1207234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917002)

When I was a teenager I used my household phone to ring up hundreds of dollars worth of virtual furniture in Habbo Hotel. I never got caught. No one noticed. These companies are making money off of people like me (as a teenager).

Ban Credit-Cards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917014)

Credit-Cards managed by a major issuer is like dealing with a BOFH Firewall administrator in the sense that no matter what you say or do it is ultimately the finale judgement of the Credit-Card company of what you may trade or buy or sell with thier trustee status over your person and account.

Don't believe me? Look at the Bestiality Industry how that was shutdown when Credit-Card companies stopped all payments to that kind of commerce.

Lawful money on the other hand is far away from future interest kinds of currency in that the trade is not maintaned by a trustee and there is no account to draw legal standing but simply trading value for value in terms of existant substance.

Living in the USA is prime example of how Lawful money has been eschewed if not entirely coerced away from using because it's unregulateable. Legal Tender is how to wage a war of commerce on the people.

Re:Ban Credit-Cards. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917060)

I'm not aware of the bestiality history, but I recall the most recent attempt of the US government to ban internet gambling is to prohibit any US bank from doing business with a non-US gambling (including poker) company, thus making it impossible for their customers to pay. I am also reminded of how Wikileak's fundraising was crippled when no financial company would process payments to them, thus making it near-impossible to donate.

Here in the EU, we're removing all the highest-denomination notes from circulation on the grounds that the only people who need to make such huge transactions in cash are criminals.

Re:Ban Credit-Cards. (1)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917102)

I like that logic for removing large notes. The US seems to be going the other way, trying to remove pennies from circulation on the grounds that nothing costs a single penny anymore, even making them costs more than a penny. They hit resistance from Abraham Lincoln lovers though.

Re:Ban Credit-Cards. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917432)

Here in the EU, we're removing all the highest-denomination notes from circulation on the grounds that the only people who need to make such huge transactions in cash are criminals.

Do you have ANY evidence to back that seemingly far-fetched claim up?
I've never even heard of categorically removing high denomination notes in the EU.

Re:Ban Credit-Cards. (-1, Flamebait)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917092)

Holy shit, you're the result of the BEST sperm your dad shot into your mom? Imagine the detritus that ran down her leg...

But only 5 look like kid's games (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917072)

Only 5 of the free games mentioned look like they're targeting children. If they're installing the other 5, I'd like to know where the parents are that should be monitoring their kid's gaming and viewing habits.

I see no difference between trying to get kids to buy in-game items than trying to get them to buy real-world toys. In both cases, the parents are the ones who should be holding the purse-strings and taking their children shopping.

I think it might be possible to restrict these games on the basis of children under a certain age not being able to enter into a legal contract for the purchases.

At very least, there should be some requirement for parents to authorize the in-game purchases and limit spending on them on a per-game basis.

Re:But only 5 look like kid's games (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917086)

I believe social media network games should be held to those same standards. The device you use to play games should not affect the legal restrictions on those games.

Re:But only 5 look like kid's games (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917108)

I believe social media network games should be held to those same standards.

I believe parents should be held to those same standards

Re:But only 5 look like kid's games (2)

MatthewCCNA (1405885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917266)

At very least, there should be some requirement for parents to authorize the in-game purchases and limit spending on them on a per-game basis.

There is another way, an iTunes allowance [apple.com] which prevents over spending be creating a separate bucket of funds automatically incremented each month with $10 - $50.

Re:But only 5 look like kid's games (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917592)

That assumes the device belongs to the kid which I doubt is true for most iPads or whatever that a kid might be permitted to play on from time to time.

Re:But only 5 look like kid's games (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919142)

At very least, there should be some requirement for parents to authorize the in-game purchases and limit spending on them on a per-game basis.

There is. Under Settings>General>Restrictions. You can turn off In-App Purchases or require a password immediately or every 15 minutes. Silly is the parent that gives up their password (basically their CC info to their kid to purchase as wanted). There is also an iTunes allowance that can be setup for kids. Allowance [apple.com]

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children? (1)

zephvark (1812804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917076)

That is all.

Re:Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917112)

Don't worry, many people spend the whole day thinking about children and how to take their money.

Re:Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917124)

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?

The one who should think of the children are the Parents.

Stop blaming others if parents have failed to take care of their own children

Summary inaccurate, iOS shows purchase dialog (5, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917140)

Most of the game developers do make an attempt to warn users that the game "changes real money for additional in-app content" but it's a lame attempt. It's easily missed ...

Apple puts up a dialog over the app's screen indicating the item to be purchased and the price to be charged. These are standard purchase dialogs displayed and implemented by the operating system, beyond the app's control. Apple also updated iOS so that the authorization for the free download could not be used to authorize an in app purchase. The in app purchase requires its own authorization. And then there is the parental control option regarding in app purchases ...

Re:Summary inaccurate, iOS shows purchase dialog (1)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917172)

Sounds good to me, but I'll just stick to devices that don't save purchase info at all.

Not kids (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917214)

TFA is being charitable when assuming the demographic is children. It's the same demographic playing FarmVille - adults. Adults with too much time and money on their hands. Both of which they are being helpfully relieved.

Re:Not kids (2)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917240)

There is no age limit for acting like a child.

Re:Not kids (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917670)

Who really cares?

Re:Not kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918914)

I wish I could find the link again... I read a story last month from a game developer who talked about the sleazy shenanigans that go on in boardroom meetings with the money guys in the entertainment industry. The projected costs and revenues of these free games are worked out to the cent before they're even released, and game colors, graphics and UIs are designed for the maximum psychological effect. The average person spends something like $1.70 on a free game, but >95% of players don't spend a cent. All the income is made from less than 5% of the player base which, according the to statistics, comes mostly from bored middle-aged women spending up to $1,600.00 each. I would expect that the "kids bounced my credit card" portion of sales are actually infinitesimal and considered casualties (if considered at all).

Penny Arcade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917318)

This story reminds me of this PA comic:
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/6/10/

I hate "Free"-to-play games, because if you want "the whole game" its going to cost you an insane amount more than a traditionally priced game would.

Apple does (2)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37917424)

And Apples does protect its users - you can set up parental controls and disable in-app purchases. In fact, I'm using parental controls on my own device to disable Ping.

If you give your kids free reign with your credit card, you shouldn't be surprised when they actually, you know, spend money on it. Sheez.

On the other topic, though, I do agree. Apple should remove games with in-app purchases from the "free" list, because they really aren't. Many of them are just demos for the real game with an in-app purchase to unlock the full version, much like the old shareware concept. Others are social media games that allow you to spend the better part of a car on crap.

The only ones I support are the ones where the in-app purchase feels more like a "hey, I really liked this game, here's a couple bucks". There's a few, for example, where you get some 20 or so levels with the game and can buy another 5 or so for money. Yes, I didn't reverse the numbers there, you get the largest part of the game for free and if you enjoy it so much, can buy a bit extra.

But still, I'd love to see a search or filter option for really free games.

Like drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37917630)

"Free" video games are like "free" illicit drugs. The first hit is on the dealer and the next hits are on the addict.

This is the tip of the iceberg (1)

Flipao (903929) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918026)

Companies are starting to notice people are willing to pay money not only for in game items, but also for perks that used to come in the form of cheat codes. So users are being given the choice to either spend hours unlocking stuff through gameplay or pay up to unlock them immediately.

Gameloft is one of the worst offenders, Modern Combat 3, which is a clear ripoff of the CoD Modern Warfare series allows users to purchase kill streak rewards with real cash.

Worst thing is, they've only just started to figure this stuff out, give it a couple years... we, as gamers are screwed.

Teach kids to pay attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918582)

Well how about you teach kids not to be so flipping stupid and/or greedy?! My kids use their iPod Touches and they play those sorts of games but they know they cannot just buy stuff and they know it costs real money for those in app purchases and they're only 8 years old. If they really want something badly, they ask and we make a note that it will come out of their weekly allowance or they can do a couple more household chores to make it up.

Teach kids there are zero free rides in life and EVERYTHING has a cost, in either time, money or manpower.

As a cheapskate, I think it's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37918682)

For cheapskates like me, I need a bunch of those kids to fund the developers to keep making me new content and games

Though the temptation is strong sometimes, I control myself and save my money for non F2P games that I really want to support.

I hold no animosity to F2P: if they have a working business model and continue for years to come, I'll just continue to enjoy all the free parts. If F2P dies because of people like me, no hard feelings either. I enjoyed my time and I'll, again, just pay for non F2P games that I really want to support

If you.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918908)

Buy your child a $350-$900 ipad for a toy, you deserve little johnny buying crap off of the app store and in game. WTF is wrong with adults that buy kids these things?

Hell, I told my 19 year old child that I will not buy her an iPad, she can go buy one on her own. Here have a stick, they can be fun.

Re:If you.... (3, Insightful)

Onaga (1369777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919636)

Here have a stick, they can be fun.

Pfft. Every hardcore gamer knows that logs are better than sticks.

What rolls down stairs
alone or in pairs,
and over your neighbor's dog?
What's great for a snack,
And fits on your back?
It's log, log, log

It's log, it's log,
It's big, it's heavy, it's wood.
It's log, it's log, it's better than bad, it's good.

If you don't have kids, you don't know jackshit (0)

rjejr (921275) | more than 2 years ago | (#37918984)

I'm sorry all you knowledgeable geeks spending all your time playing WOW paying 8c so your horse can have wings, this isn't about that, it's about the Smurfs charging NINETY NINE DOLLARS for a bucket of make believe berries. It's not even make believe caviar. That price is obviously picked as an evil attempt to get kids to do something they shouldn't, b/c I don't care how much you like the Smurfs, nobody, not even Bernie Madoff and his illegal billions, should be spending $99 on imaginary berries. Not even with your cheatin' ex's stolen credit card should you be giving the makers of this game $99 for anything in a virtual game. And if you don't have kids then I'm sorry, but you really don't know anything. I don't care if you're a live in nanny or au pair or greatest aunt in the world, if they aren't your kids you don't know. So don't give advice or critique on something you seriously have no idea whatsoever about, you're just making yourself look like a smug superior jack@ss and even if you were 100% correct, which by the way if you don't have kids you have no chance of being, but nobody is going to listen to you anyway, b/c you don't know, so just shut up and go away.

Take you credit card off file (1)

oddjob1244 (1179491) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919144)

Login into itunes and under payment options select "None.",

I took my credit card off my itunes account a while ago after I started hearing stories on the news of kids running up huge bills and what a nightmare it is to get Apple to act. I can still "buy" the free games, and I don't have to worry about my kid accidentally selecting something that costs money. On the rare occasion that I do want to buy something from Apple it prompts me for payment information and I just have to enter in my credit card information.

This has the added bonus of preventing someone from discovering your username and password and running up a huge bill.

Re:Take you credit card off file (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919204)

Or go into the parental controls section of their iDevice, and disable in-app purchases.
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