A group of concerned parents has now been given permission to sue Apple for “manipulating” their kids into spending large amounts of real-world cash on virtual in-app objects (mostly Smurfberries) in various iOS games. Led by attorney Garen Meguerian, the group is alleging that the “addictive” nature of some iOS games drives their kids to buy in-game items without really knowing what’s going on.
This isn’t the first time parents have voiced concerns over in-app purchases made by their kids. After 8 year-old Madison Kay managed to run up a bill of $1400 in record time on Smurfs’ Village last year, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that games like Smurfs’ Village must warn parents and children that those $99 Smurfberries do cost actual, real, non-Smurf cash.
However, Apple’s in-app purchase protocol has changed since then. When Madison went a little crazy for the Smurfberries, she was able to do so because all that stood between her and the berries was her mother’s iTunes password. These days, kids like Madison have an extra few steps to jump through before being able to make an autonomous purchase, including an extra, app-only password. Additionally, Apple says that iOS games featuring in-app purchases now come with an option that allows parents to switch in-game buying off altogether.