One of the sneakier elements of iPad and mobile games (actually, all social games) is that while they’re free to download and play there are many in-game purchases that can add up quickly to massive amounts of real world dollars. Imagine the surprise as mother Stephanie Kay received a bill for $1400 from her 8 year old daughter Madison having just a bit too much fun in the iPad game Smurfs Village.
Though a password is required in order to make in-app purchases, that bit of security isn’t enough. Once a child knows and enter the password, they have 15 minutes to make all of the purchases they want, accidental or intentional. Madison was buying Smurfberries for her village without knowing they were costing real money, and quickly racked up that massive bill. Her mother feels that the game is preying on children due to the fact it states it is for children ages 4+; children who have no business paying $99 for a basket of Smurfberries.
Luckily, Apple was kind enough to give out a one-time reimbursement this time. We’re pretty sure that these game developers don’t make it easy for children to make unintentional purchases by choice, since it is actually bad business and bad for companies if there are lots of complaints and credit card chargebacks. It is a risky business though, since many of these games have a cute art style and easy gameplay that skew to a young audience. Many kids play games on their parents’ iPads or mobile devices and may accidentally be making purchases without realizing it.
This is just one problem in the digital age where people enjoy shopping online, one-click purchasing, and online billing. （source:blog.games）