You may recall back in November when Beeline Interactive (formerly Capcom Mobile) released Smurfs’ Village [Free] into the App Store. It was a Farmville-like freemium sim game that was themed after the popular 3-apple high blue folk many of us remember from our childhood. We actually quite liked Smurfs’ Village in our review, noting that it did incredible fan-service to fans of The Smurfs and had gorgeous Retina Display graphics that brought everything to life.

Unfortunately, the freemium aspect sucked a lot of the joy out of the Smurfs' Village. Crops would wither and die if you weren’t constantly attentive of them and purchasing the IAP Smurfberry currency was basically required to obtain some of the cooler items in the game.

The IAP currency didn’t just suck the joy out of the game, though, but also sucked the money out of many unhappy parents’ bank accounts. The IAP system in Smurfs’ Village allowed you to make multiple purchases with just a few clicks, and in the weeks following the game's release Apple had a huge number of requests for refunds by parents whose younger children had accidentally bought hundreds of dollars of Smurfberries in the game.

Part of the problem was the loose way that Beeline had implemented the IAP functionality, and the other part of the problem was that Apple’s own iTunes account system would keep users logged in for up to 15 minutes after entering a password and making a purchase in a game. This led to parents entering their password for one reason or another and then handing their device off to their kids who would fire up Smurfs’ Village and click away recklessly buying Smurfberries.

Apple was not very pleased with Beeline over the uproar of angry customers, and it turns out that the government wasn’t very pleased with Apple’s in-app purchasing system either, and launched an investigation into how that system works this past February. This led to Apple changing how IAP is handled on devices, requiring a password to be entered every time a purchase is being made from within an app as of the iOS 4.3 update.

Now Beeline is taking this a step further with their latest update to Smurfs’ Village. There is now a cap on in-app purchases which only allows a max of 5 to be made within a 15 minute time frame. I’m curious to know whether Apple required Beeline to add this type of restriction in or if it was of the developer’s own volition, as I haven’t yet heard of any other case where Apple limited how much can be purchased through their IAP infrastructure.

At any rate, there are also a few new items and additional levels to earn in this new update. If you’re a fan of Smurfs’ Village, update your copy of the game and take comfort in the fact that at most you’ll only be accidentally spending $500 every 15 minutes on Smurfberries.

  • http://twitter.com/Scykei Thicky

    Yay. It's great that I can only spend 500 dollars every 15 minutes! Really pleased with the developers for placing the safety restriction. Now I'm not afraid to play again! :D

  • Wisedude

    No doubt in my mind that with the huge priced IAP and the game definitely aimed at kids they did and do know exactly what they are doing. This is why I will never download a freemium game and IAP got so disliked by customers so quickly.

    • Anonymous

      How about... download a freemium app and don't let your stupidity get the better of you?

      • Anonymous

        The mere existence of a $60 in-app purchase is an immediate red flag here. That single purchase costs as much as a console game from a major studio, and all it gets you is 1000 Smurfberries?!

        At best, the existence of an in-app purchase of in-game currency tells me that the developer cares more about making as much money as possible than making a well balanced game that doesn't make you feel like you need to cheat to get ahead.

      • Anonymous

        Sure, in this instance. I wouldn't download the game for the same reason. In general though, games with IAP can be great or they can be terrible. I usually judge each case individually rather than bashing the whole business model.

  • Floo

    Oh the Government did not like it.

    What a laugh.

    Look what they done over the years with black ops and stuff like that keepin us in Dark ages

    • ET

      You mean like hiding UFOs in Area 51 and faking moon landing?

  • Dyscode

    IAP over $10 at a time should be banned anyway!

  • JC

    Apple should requiere that password is enter for EVERY IAP purchase. That's the only way kids (actually everyone) don't buy IAP without even noticing it.

    JC

    • Anonymous

      Kids: you (the parent) can restrict access to IAP from the Settings application in order to protect your credit card. If you don't lock your phone you aren't very smart.

      Everyone else: a dialog appears everytime you attempt a IAP. If you don't notice it you aren't very smart.

    • Thaurin

      They did. As of iOS 4.3. Read the article.

  • del

    just a minute - that 99 dollar thing is a joke, right?

    • Quintar

      Disturbingly, it appears to be the case that a "wagon of smurfberries" does indeed cost $99..

      • EastsideStompers

        Only absurdly rich or drunk people (or both at the same time) would ever fall for that one...

    • Anonymous

      It's actually $60 if you look closely, but that isn't really much better.

  • Anonymous

    I understand why they did this, but I for one am tired of entering my password on my iPhone -- every time I buy an app (even a free one), every time I download an update (!) and now every time I buy an IAP. I wish there was a settings thing to change this...

  • Jenny

    I don't buy smurfberries at all. I love this game. People can make fun of freemium game mechanics all they want but there are great titles out there which wouldn't be free without the monetary function of a 'smurfberry' function.

    And I don't have to check my game every 15 minutes. There are a lot of crops of different times from 30 seconds to 24 hours. So there!

    • del

      you'd call it a "game mechanic" then, would you? I've tried a farm game, and I can explain it to you: you're setting a lot of different timers and getting a reward for coming back at the right time and setting more timers. That's not a game. That's a make-work project.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah it's definitely a mechanic. It's great you don't like it though, really fascinating.

      • Anonymous

        Why are you telling him what games to play?

  • Sam

    So the Government felt bad about wasting tax-payers money on Smurfberries?

    Well, I wish they'd care about wasting it elsewhere, too!

  • Wolter Janstra

    Freemium is just another word for the drug dealer model. Give them the first hit free and once they're hooked, bleed them dry for every last penny. Very unsmurf.

  • BillyBob

    I regard this game as simply stealing. Capcom even took their name off of it because they know how shady they're being. $60 for imaginary game currency is the worst sort of gouging and the game should removed completely from the app store. Anything like this, aimed at children should not be a 'Freemium' app.

  • kali

    Hi there smurfs village is awesome isnt it!

  • http://twitter.com/SmurfsVillage Smurfs' Village

    Visit the Smurfs' Village Fansite & Community for Village Owners! They're currently holding a smurfberries giveaway!!! Go check it out. http://Smurfs-Village.com is a great site!

  • Kdibs1

    hi i play smurfs village