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.