Feeds

Oz consumer watchdog makes beeline for Smurf game

‘Shonky Award’ for in-game price sting

Boost IT visibility and business value

It’s hard for the games business to get a look-in when the competition includes cosmetic-only car roof rails, an insurance industry that redefines “flood” to dodge claims, and snake-oil slimming products. However, Beeline Interactive has managed a placing in Choice’s annual Shonky Awards.

Its now-notorious Smurfs’ Village game was named-and-shamed by the consumer watchdog for the way parents were stung with unexpected bills flowing from the game’s “freemium” model (don’t you love the way that marketing departments come up with odious new words to describe even more odious business practices?).

Children playing the free game are encouraged to improve their progress by the in-game purchase of “smurfberries” – something that can soak up $100 with a couple of clicks.

As Choice put it, while the game runs a disclaimer about the price of smurfberries, “kids ignore it, parents are oblivious to it, and [the] distinction between requests for real versus game money later in the game isn’t always clear to the kids the game is marketed to”.

Shonky it may be, but it’s at least fair to observe that In-App Purchases – IAP to their friends – have been a huge hit all over the AppStore world. In this commentary, the Guardian notes that premium IAP offerings are also popular in Crowdstar’s Top Girl and Storm8’s World War.

Others have criticized Apple as the source of the problem; although it was supposed to plug a loophole that left a 15-minute delay between the “buy” button and the password prompt, big bills are still happening.

The other highlights of the Shonky Awards were a Chinese car with a sticker warning that its roof rails are cosmetic only and can’t actually carry anything; the SensaSlim range of weight-loss products, whose owners sued a Choice consumer representative for defamation when he lodged a complaint about the products with Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration; bling-encrused baby dummies that can still be bought after being banned for presenting a choking hazard; along dodgy “shapewear”, a “green electricity” product that didn’t work, and a quail supplier that claimed its little birds could cure everything from diabetes to tuberculosis. ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.