Zombie Farm – A cautionary tale

Here’s an interesting story, a cautionary tale for those with App Store enabled devices and kids. Now my kids are very tech savvy, and great care is taken around this house when it comes to network filtering and logging. We have lots of computers, but only Mum and Dad get to explore the web freely.

So my kid downloads a rather boring casual game called Zombie Farm, free for the cult-store. Its the usual 2.5D Grind. Why is he interested – because some other kid showed up with an ipod touch and explained where to go and get games. Prior to that the idea of downloading anything was not even on the radar. Result, $100 worth of in-app purchases for stupid micro-payments for virtual nothing.

Now I’m big enough to cop this on the chin – however, it is somewhat cautionary to mention that the games industry has fallen in deep lust with micro payments. $1.49 at a time, the game does not require any further authorisation at all to clock up hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars.

And of course, the apple store has no concept of the idea of ‘refund’ – it’s all in the iron clad, hard ass terms and conditions. So watch out – free games, may contain hidden ‘click me’ to avoid doing any work buttons – that won’t boot any kind of reminder to the user that money is about to vacate their account.

Be warned: there is an increasing amount of so called free games, leeching off Facebook type play themes – and most of them are total rubbish on the app store. However, Apple seems to be fundamentally missing the point here – authorization to bank accounts needs far a more rigourous schema. Who is to say/deny who clicked what? The invoicing and metrics supplied are almost zero via iTunes. It’s a licence to click money.

5 thoughts on “Zombie Farm – A cautionary tale

  1. I agree! My 6-year-old just spent $20 buying zombie brains before we knew what had happened. He knows he can only download free games, but now that I have just learned about micro payments, his choices will be MUCH more limited!

  2. I had a similar experience. My eight year old daughter purchased $150 worth of brains before I noticed. She had no idea that “buy” in the game actually meant using real money. She thought it was an in game purchase using fake credits. To make matters worse, I didn’t even know my CC was associated with the account, nor was I aware that purchases could be made from ‘free’ games.

    I had removed my CC from the account to avoid purchases from my kids. When I purchased a CD from the store I gave my CC to apple again. However, it wasn’t clear to me that my CC was going to be associated with my account again. I though I was giving it for a one time purchase of a CD. BTW, this is the usual and customary way of doing business on the internet….. you must opt in for keeping CC info on file. With Apple it is automatic. Buyer beware.

    I will be making all music purchases via Amazon now. Apple has lost my music business and I certainly will not buy and ipad now. Andriod tablets are looking much better to me then trying to deal with Apple. For me no refunds == no purchases from this consumer any more.

  3. If the app store is not going to play nice with my money, then they can forget about seeing any more of it including future purchases of Apple products. It’s not about the $50 my 8 year old Daughter just spent, it’s the manipulation of young children and out right theft by this company “Play Forge”

  4. My 7 year old daughter spent 50 dollars on 50 brains. I just found out. I went online to see the scope of the problem, and here I am. My kids have access to the password on the account. they havent bought a single paid game in 5 months. but she had no idea that this game charges real money of course.
    Now I made sure that their ipods have in-app purchases blocked. and their iTunes Account is not linked to a credit card any more (they can only download free games).
    However, I totally agree that this is manipulation and right out theft. and apple is a crime partener (they gain a share of the money). shame on you apple. I like that they ban adult content on their store. but theft is not exactly something I would advocate either.

  5. My eight year old son played zombie farm for a couple of hours (sneakily) and he racked up 400$ worth of charges. Stewart (my son) coming from a world of technology and digital communication, thought that “buy” meant in-game purchases; he knows that purchase involves “real-money”. This game is a total scam, a rip-off, and it will strip you of hard earned money. BE WARNED!!!!!!

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