A lot of people have suggested to us that we add in-app purchases to our app to generate money from our users, but the recent settlement between Apple and users whose kids racked up hefty bills via in-app purchases shows exactly why we refuse to use these features in our Chinese game app for kids.
From the outset, we knew we had a responsibility to parents and kids to not dangle purchases in front of children playing our apps the way so many “free” apps these day do constantly during use.
The Apple settlement, filed February 22, is clear evidence that families think this is an unfair practice and a deceptive way to make money. The fact that Apple is now giving $5 iTunes credit to each afflicted party also shows the tech giant is facing growing resentment towards in-app purchases.
And this is nothing new — the lawsuit was filed in 2011 and featured on The Daily Show, which used hyperbole to illustrate how kids can easily buy their way into a fat credit card bill for their parents.
For our game Chinese Fridge, we pledge to never use in-app purchases in our apps, because at the end of the day we want kids to learn and benefit from our apps, not recklessly spending their parents’ money and causing conflict in their families.
We hope to see more app developers move away from overbearing in-app purchases — of course it’s a legitimate way to sell services to users, but if it isn’t done right, it can become a obnoxious, deceptive way to earn money.
In the meantime, we do want to applaud Apple for taking steps like requiring users to enter their password before making an in-app purchase. That said, we’ve definitely heard from parents whose kids know the passwords, so only careful parents can keep this method foolproof.
If you’re interested, you can see Apple’s “Bait App Settlement” document below: