Apple has been ordered to refund at least $32.5 million in the next year to parents whose children have made in-app purchases without their consent. The decision, courtesy of the US Federal Trade Commission, also advises that the company alters its procedures (including the App Store’s policy that lets users enter their passwords once for a single purchase then continue to buy things during a fifteen minute period) to make it more difficult for children to engage in micro-transactions.
In-app purchases are (depressingly) big business, contributing heavily to the $10 billion worth of revenue raised for developers via the App Store in 2013. In the most extreme cases a single transaction has cost anywhere up to $70, and some parents complained that their little ones had cleared spent well beyond $2000 on a game. Personally, I feel that a lot of the blame lies with the parents failing to observe the content or practices of the games their children are playing, but there is little doubt that some developers have deliberately cashed in.
Last night, Electronic Arts (EA) held an investor call in which several details of upcoming titles were revealed. Below is a quick list of the most important stuff to note from the meeting:
It seems to have been quite a good year for EA on the financial side of things – say what you want about their money grabbing schemes with stuff like Online Passes, but the output of games last year was solid, and sales from titles such as Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic have led to an overall revenue of $5.4 billion; $1.2 billion of which was purely from digital sources such as Origin, EA’s online distribution service
More importantly for gaming fans, we can look forward to a few more titles in the upcoming months. The latest instalment of Need For Speed is set for release sometime around Christmas as per usual. Given the lacklustre response to The Run, here’s to hoping that we will get another game in the same vein of quality as Hot Pursuit.
Football fans like myself should also be anticipated FIFA 13 in the same time period. Series producer David Rutter has promised an updated player impact engine, better ball control and revamped free kicks amongst the major changes for the latest version of the best football game on the market.
The investor meeting also heavily hinted that there will be a third Dead Space game, widely expected to be under the helm once again of Visceral Games. Expect more details of this game to be released at the upcoming E3 conference.
Finally, we have a more concrete release date for the new SimCity, which I am very much looking forward to. Before yesterday we had to guess when it would arrive in 2013, but now the promise of a release in the final quarter of this fiscal year (January to March for those of us not blessed in the ways of accountancy) means the wait becomes only slightly less unbearable.
Sim City 5 was officially yesterday announced at GDC (Game Developers Conference). Hell yeah!
The new title, which is being simply called ‘Sim City’, will be developed by the series creators Maxis (the geniuses behind the ridiculously successful The Sims series as well), and is slated for a 2013 release on PC. The game will incorporate a new engine called ‘GlassBox’, and will be the first fully 3D entry into the franchise. EA, who own Maxis, had the following to say:
“Sim City is a true rebirth of a franchise that brings the depth of simulation that has been the series hallmark for more than two decades and marries it with next generation accessibility and a robust multiplayer mode, giving players the power to change a world together.”
They were also kind enough to release a teaser trailer, which you can see here. Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to install Sim City 4 again and destroy my perfect communities with hurricanes…
UPDATE: If you are a fan of The Sims 3, it’s currently on sale on Steam for just £10.99. Snap it up before the offer runs out at 4PM Pacific Time on Thursday