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Apple: Fix the IAP issue before it becomes a scandal

By on April 17, 2012

Apple is not known as the most responsive company in the world. It is run in the image of its late autocratic founder.

The latest class action lawsuit filed against Apple ought to prompt it to change its spots. I hope that it does.

Gamezebo reports on a class-action suit filed by

“disgruntled parents against Apple about what they term as “bait apps” but what we call freemium games, or games that are free to play but require purchases of virtual goods to progress.”

I disagree with the characterisation of freemium games as “bait apps”, but I believe strongly that no one should be unclear about what they are getting into when they buy IAP. It should be easy for parents to ensure that their children do not buy stuff without their permission.

Gamezebo calls for Apple to stop using lawyers to brush this issue under the carpet and instead to change its policies to make IAP a well-understood, positive part of the games environment. They have four ways to improve IAP:

  • Removing the 15 minute password window
  • Putting a limit on the amount of micro-transactions that can be purchased at a time (similar to how credit card companies track fraudulent activity)
  • Publishing a credit refund policy more prominent than hidden in the terms of service
  • If the onus is on its game partners, enforce the refund rules with game developers and if a game developer does not issue a refund, punish them.

I agree with all of these points, and call on Apple to take action. Do you agree? Anything else you would like to see Apple do?


(Thanks to @RoryB for the tip)

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: