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Gamers claim unauthorized in app purchases from iOS game

Users who have downloaded a free Chinese-language iOS massive multiplayer online role playing game in the iTunes App Store are complaining that the app charged them unauthorized in app purchases. Apple is investigating.

The app, called 帝國 Online, is currently only offered in a Chinese language version, with its English translation still in beta. The online iTunes web page of the title lists three reviews, all of which complain that their account was "hacked" by the game to drain their iTunes balance via multiple in-app game purchases.

Players of other games have also complained that in app purchases were being made without their authorization, although the claims of this happening do not seem as widespread as they should be if games were actually defrauding users on a regular basis.

The iTunes page of the game in question lists relatively high ratings, with no prominent complaints about accounts being "hacked," although some reviewers note the the game can't really be played beyond the second level without buying its in game currency for real money.

One user reported that after contacting Apple about the matter, the disputed amount of in game purchases from the game was refunded and that the company would investigate the situation. It's not clear whether the app actually subverted authorization of in-app purchases, or whether players simply didn't understand that they were buying potions, game currency and other in app game elements with real money from their account.

Apple originally initiated in app purchases only for paid apps, but later relaxed its rules to allow developers to offer free apps that could also sell in game elements for money.

Users concerned about making inadvertent in game purchases when playing games in an unfamiliar language (or when lending their iOS device to their children) can disable In App Purchases as a feature within the Settings / General / Restrictions configuration of their device.