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.
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