The mobile game is raking in the dollars, not because its content is good, but because every second tap brings up a purchase pop-up — most of them $99.
We thought My Little Pony's in-app price gouging was bad — but that was until we met a little iOS game called Super Monster Bros by Adventure Time Pocket Free Games from Mario Games Casas Team. We stumbled across it using the search term "Adventure Time" (looking to see if Fionna Fights was available here yet. Good news: it is).
The game itself looks like something of a Mario clone, even including Mario sounds in the gameplay, but with Pokémon instead of Mario (you start with a Charmander). Unfortunately, that's just par for the course in certain parts of the iTunes app store. It's also par for the course for developers who just don't get how to entice gamers with good rewards and stellar gameplay to try and wring as many cents as they can out of unsuspecting players.
However, Super Monster Bros by Adventure Time Pocket Free Games might possibly be in a league of its own. Almost every action leads to a pop-up requesting that the player pay large sums of money to unlock parts of a not even well designed game. IGN filmed the gameplay here. While it might be a relatively easy matter to just dismiss the pop-up, something is clearly working. We've never seen an iTunes "Top In-App Purchases" list quite like this:
What makes it worse is that we strongly suspect that the game is aimed at children. The bright colours, the Pokémon, the fact that it shows up in a search for Adventure Time all point to the seller relying on kids not knowing what it means when they tap "OK". And to make it even worse, there's a paid version.
Unfortunately, there are always going to be games like this in iTunes, but there are a number of ways you can protect yourself. Firstly, always check a game's star rating. If it has a lot of low ratings, it's probably not very good, even if it just means that it's a bad game. However, this isn't necessarily a guarantee.
If you have kids who regularly play games on your iOS device, or just don't trust yourself not to absentmindedly make a purchase you don't intend to, your best bet is to put purchases on full password protection. By default, iOS devices are shipped requiring a password in order to authorise a purchase, but there's a 15-minute window wherein you can make as many purchases as you like without entering the password. Here's how you can set it so that it requests a password every single time.
Go to Settings and scroll down to "General"
Inside the General menu, scroll down until you see Restrictions
Once in, tap "Enable Restrictions" at the top of the screen. It will ask you to enter a four-digit code. This is for the restrictions only; no one can change the restrictions settings without the code
Scroll down until you see "In-App Purchases". Make sure it is set to the On position
Go into the option below and change it from "15 Minutes" to "Immediate". Your iDevice will now ask for your password any time you, or your child, try to make a purchase.