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While on vacation, my family and I wandered into the Kardashian’s DASH Clothing LA store in Calabasas, California, back in the summer of 2010, when it was still open. Of course I didn’t bump into a Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kylie or Kendall – nor a Kris, for that matter – but I did get a certain feeling of weirdness upon walking upon the hallowed ground that I’d seen portrayed in Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
I tried to act casually as I coolly flipped the price tag of a seemingly too-small cream sweater-jacket over in my fingers and read the astronomical price. It was perhaps $270 to $500 or so, and I left without purchasing anything.
Well, sky-high prices of that fashionable Armenian girl’s clothing (and other virtual items) are at the heart of the latest controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian, whose app is seriously making a killing in the iTunes App Store. Putting on my techie hat, I kept wondering to myself how and why the Kim K app was making so much money when compared to others. I mean, of course the superstar has lots of fans – moi, included – but there seemed to be another mystery to be unveiled about the massive income realization and potential.
Writer Ayelet Waldman has offered clues in a new rant that she posted to her Facebook wall, claiming that the app bypassed the $20 monthly in-app purchase limits she’d set for her son, who went on to inadvertently spend $120 in two days – an act that left him in tears of disappointment. Yeah, Waldman knows how to get attention using words like “vile, scumbag, pox and pigs” all in one sentence on FB, but I was just truly inspired by once again watching her original interview with Oprah a decade ago, and then an update 10 years after the melee brought on by the essay wherein she claimed too many women pay more attention to their kids than their husbands. I concur.
Kim Kardashian’s Glu Mobile app company: Did they really bypass the in-app purchase controls?
Okay, back to the technical side of things.
Initially, when “in-app purchases” or IAP, as techies call the ability to spend real money within apps on fake stuff like coins or whatever, became a thing several years ago, kids went willy-nilly and spent thousands of dollars on their parents’ credit cards.
Due to the backlash, Apple was forced to become more responsible, and insisted that users re-enter their passwords in order to spend money on such things. The ability to set in-app purchase limits also aimed to curtail these expenditures.
That’s why the most incendiary part of Waldman’s post does more than elude to the charge that Glu Mobile, Inc., maker of the Kim Kardashian app, somehow intentionally allowed her child to bypass the limits set to avoid such a thing. Sure, Apple came through and refunded the money, but I’m still wondering what’s at the root of the charges.
“Man, I love Apple,” she tweeted. “They are refunding our purchases. And we’ve deleted all credit card info. Parents, check your kids phones!”
Of course, when a famous author’s Twitter and Facebook statuses go viral, the public relations folks tend to get busy making things right.
Their official statement on this matter:
“The Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game makes full use of all in-app purchase parental controls and Apple ID verification capabilities available on Apple’s iOS and Mac App Store platforms. The game is not in any way designed to deceive players or cause unintentional purchases. Players are shown a clear notification in-game that they are about to make an in-app purchase that requires real money. This notification also requests secondary confirmation, including entering the player’s iTunes password, that the player intends to make the in-app purchase.
Further, to make an in-app purchase in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, players must have access to the password for the associated Apple ID. Children are not able to make an in-app purchase without their parent’s password. Parents should exercise caution when allowing children to use their device by enabling parental controls to restrict unintentional or unauthorized purchases. Apple offers clear instructions for disabling in-app purchases, requiring a passcode for each download, and managing your child’s account. Those instructions are available at support.apple.com.”
“The horrific Kardashian Hollywood game tricked our kids into spending $120 in 2 days. Somehow managed to bypass our ‘allowance’ limitations,” Waldman claimed.
A search for any black hat tips from developers on coding apps using the iOS SDK that could allow app game coders to bypass in-app purchase limits turned up nil. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, after all, although I paid my $99 this year to enter the Apple Developer Program, I’ve yet to get my first app in the iTunes App Store.
Anyhoo, it remains to be scene whether this is truly a case of nefarious coding, or if Waldman’s kid was smart enough to do away with the in-app purchase limits. The inordinate amount of time I just spent reading reviews of the app continually turned up words like “addictive” and “obsessed” being written by reviewers of the game.
And look at these in-app purchase prices:
Top In-App Purchases
- Small Star Pack $4.99
- Medium Star Pack $9.99
- Small Cash Stack $4.99
- Large Star Pack $19.99
- Rising Star Pack $3.99
- Medium Cash Stack $9.99
- Quick-charge Energy Special 1 $4.99
- XL Star Pack $39.99
- Large Cash Stack $19.99
Quick-charge Energy Bonus 2 $1.99
So whether it’s true or not that the app developers have found some kind of loophole in getting around in-app purchase limits – I like to get all the facts from all parties before pointing any accusatory fingers – perhaps the outrageousness of the prices are what’s driving folks to find truly difficult-looking app cheats to get more money and K-Stars, or find easier Kardashian app hacks like watching videos and the like to earn “ish” without spending their payments or running up their parents’ credit cards to the max.