Price: FREE     Score: 4/10    Category: Games

Perfect for those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and a nightmare for those who have trouble controlling their spending habits, Tap Zoo from Pocket Gems falls squarely into Farmville territory.

It’s a title that’s less about building and maintaining a functioning zoo, and more about sapping your wallet dry via micro-transactions. Can Tap Zoo be played without making in-game purchases? Sure. But it’s not designed to. In fact, making in-game purchases is the only way to keep Tap Zoo from feeling like a tedious chore.

Games like Tap Zoo have been around for ages. The premise here is that you’re given a tiny plot of land and a handful of in-game currency and set off on the task to build a zoo. You begin by selecting an animal and placing that animal on your plot of land. Visitors then begin to arrive, generating revenue for you to reinvest into your zoo. From there, a number of choices are open to you. You can begin to breed your animals, add more animals, build other attractions like food stands and exhibits, increase the size of your zoo, or add decorations to your zoo, making it more aesthetically pleasing. You’re rewarded for all of these actions through virtual coins, bonus stars, and leveling up.

That, in essence, is the game. Where things start to get tricky is when you factor in the artificial limitations that are worked into the game. Would you like to breed your animal? No problem! You just have to wait an hour for it to process. However, for a nominal fee you can get your new baby gorilla immediately. KA-CHING! Would you like to buy a lion? Sorry, you don’t have enough coins yet. However, for a nominal fee you can purchase more coins. KA-CHING! Would you like to breed more than one animal at a time? No problem, just buy another nest. KA-CHING!

There’s nothing wrong with micro-transactions and in-game purchases, but when they are an integral part of the experience, making the game far less enjoyable without utilizing these features, it’s a problem. Without shelling out money, Tap Zoo grinds to a halt, forcing the player to wait hours in some cases for anything significant to happen.

That’s not to say that Tap Zoo is all bad. There are some nice features included in the game, such as the ability to visit zoos belonging to other players. You can travel to these zoos, complete a task and help out the other player in order to – you guessed it – earn more currency. In addition, players are able to connect through Facebook and Twitter in order to ask for help or simply brag about the state of their zoo.

Bottom Line: Tap Zoo is a revenue-generating app, and little more. The game itself exists only to make money for the developer, and only those who enjoy obsessively tending to their zoo will be able to squeeze any enjoyment out of this “game”.

Tap Zoo is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Tap Zoo is a total rip off, my daughter managed to rack up 330 GBP in just a few hours….
    Blood sucking vermin

  2. This App cost my family almost $1600.00 in a weekend. Luckily we have recovered the money from Apple. This game is a child predator; it stalks kids and cost their parents a small fortune. Don’t get involved with this game.

  3. complain to apple store and complain to your credit card company and make sure you get yourmoney back
    i for one will be going straight down to regent street if im not refunded tom for my sons spend

  4. I have just been charged £182 in a couple of hours. Luckily my seven year old son smelled a rat and said it says it’s free but I think it’s charging us. I had to ring my bank straight away and report it as fraud. They said it’s been actioned to the fraud dept and hopefully they can stop the payments in the morning. They have stopped my bank card and I have to wait for a new one. My son was beside himself upset about it. He told me to sell his ipod touch to pay for it. It’s disgusting praying on young children. Apple should be ashamed!!! I have removed the app and hope I get my money back.

  5. What is wrong with you people? Of course it is a revenue generating game! It is a BUSINESS! Who works for free? If you want to enjoy something in life, why shouldn’t you have to pay for it?
    And for those of you who complain that your kids spent too much money — Monitor your children people! Set the Parental controls and restrictions and don’t give your young child an iPhone or iPod to play with when it is linked to your credit card.
    Obvious.
    I do not feel sorry for any of you who do not have common sense!

  6. Hope you got a refund from Itunes, the same thing happened to me with Tap Farm, 580 gems costing £59.99 twice to play a free game. I agree apple should be very ashamed. they should not allow in app purchases within kids games. I did get a refund from itunes I hope you manage to get a refund too.

  7. Your all idiots, if you make an in game purchase it tells you “are you sure you want to spend $14.99 in exchange for 62 stars?” if your children hit accept they are either as stupid as you are for giving them an unrestricted ipod with your credit card info, or they knew what they were doing. And please people, dont complain to apple, or even blame apple for your idiocy, apple have nothing to do with micropurchases made from an app that wasn’t even developed by them. I feel sorry for you morons and your idiot children, life is going to be very hard if your not careful with your money, one of these days your going to have to wake up and realise that the problem lies with yourselves and not those around you. the app is designed to make money, you were dumb enough to give your children a direct link to your credit card. do the math and grow a brain morons. FFS this world is going to SH!T

  8. HELLOOOOOOO…..stop putting your credit cards, debit cards and anything else that can be charged the stupid money, buy the app store cards for $10 or whatever, but at least you’ll never have to worry about hundreds of $$….Apple isn’t responsible for these apps, and neither are the developers…if you’re an adult…READ before hitting okay…if you’re a parent and you let your kids play these type of apps and give them your credit cards…you’ve only to blame yourself.

  9. all you retarded parents who let their kids have an iPod touch without setting parental controls especially for in app purchases…….
    i wonder how you were smart enough to get a job that would give you enough money to buy an itouch for your kid.
    it is amusing to see all the people complaining that this game is a rip off, when you were the one that let them do this. it says “are you sure that you would like to purchase ______ for $___” if your kid cant figure out this then they are too young to have an iPod touch

  10. This game is not a rip off. It clearly states when you go on to buy coins and stars the cost of these. The key word here is BUY. They are not free. The game itself is free. Maybe you should all keep a better eye on your kids maybe?

  11. You are both sadly misinformed as to how this application works. Your children lied to you and took advantage of your misguided trust that you placed in them when handing over a wireless device with no set parental controls and your credit card attached the iTunes account.

    #1. Apple does not have any control over or endorse any applications in the app store so complaining to them will not help you.

    #2. The app is free, I play it myself and I haven’t spent a dime. However, it is possible within the game to purchase “stars” and “coins” to “buy” animals. These are real purchases and ask for your approval and iTunes account password. It is NOT fraud on behalf of the game but on behalf of your children.

    My suggestion, set up the parental controls, change your iTunes account password and do NOT give it to your children, and take your credit card information off of your iTunes account. I like to buy the iTunes gift cards and it may be beneficial to create a separate account for your kids in which you never add more than a small denomination gift card to it every so often. It would teach them more responsible spending habits and keep you from getting ripped off BY YOUR KIDS.

  12. The game is free! I am at level 26 until now, costs: zero. You have to be patient for the free game, that’s all!

  13. it does not ask for your password to make in app purchases you idiot, all the kid has to do is select “yes” and bam they made a $99 purchase.

  14. My daughter made $330 in in app purchases. I’m waiting for Apple to respond to my email. Its completely insane that you need to enter a password to download the free game but no password to purchase $99 worth of fake bucket of stars! I love how people post comments about how its bad parenting and the parents fault that this stuff happens, I cant wait for this misfortune to happen to them.

  15. hey can anyone do anything about having tap zoo with out any wire connection …..and hey whats up with all the fuss about tap zoo having you pay so much money…. isn’t that crazy …!

  16. The game is misleading especially for children. My son asked his grandparents if he could download it. They saw that the download was free (as he is not allowed to purchase games) and said OK. They watched as he started the game and saw the format and content and felt it was safe. He also plays Lego games where you collect coins to buy things, like Star Wars at the Cantina. So when a 6 year old was asked if he wanted a satchel of coins to buy things, he associated it with Lego Coins and not real money. So between this and the Smurfs, same idea on the same day, with same grandparents. $84 US in about 1 hour. How can you possibly believe that charging $49 for anything inside of a game is not a RIP-OFF. Seriously, $49 – C-mon.

  17. People are very narrow minded. Your comment about entering the password for the purchase is my complaint in addition to the cost. The download was monitored and the game content was examined. The cost of the $49 to do anything inside of a game seems a bit excessive.

  18. I am an adult and I accidently hit the buy button. All I was doing was looking. I think the developers should put a password application in the game so that accidents do not happen. Yes parents should watch their children but the developers and apple have a responsibility as well,

  19. I found this game delightful as I and my daughter volunteer at a zoo. I have heard so many comments regarding it as a mindless ripoff when in fact it can be used as an effective educational tool with interaction between parents and their children provided the parents are willing to get involved. Discussing the animals is not main learning exprience although mythology can be brought up when one of those mythological creatures is introduced. Its the math and logic being used when purchasing the animals that is the most beneficial. Remember those horrible story problems we had in math. Here is a fun way to tackle them and allow our children to unconsiously start using logic and reasoning skills. Some animals may cost less points, create a greater dollar return in shorter amount of time such as $1,900 every six hours when collected at the six hour mark. ( Your new six hour time frame only begins after you collect from the last six hours) What about school or the time you are sleeping. You can’t collect during those times so now maybe an animal which cost more points and earns $6,000 every 12 hours would be a better choice. As long as parents are working with their children it can be a wonderful win – win experience. No accidental charges and an advancement in your childs education… which is wonderful considering the state of our schools today.

  20. WOW! I love all these holier than thou types who are soooo sure of what their children are doing (or maybe they don’t have any kids and have yet to see what it’s like!)…HELLO, Rthomes said the grandparents helped the child download the “free” game. OK…so the grandparents aren’t as tech savvy as they could/should be, but it’s an honest mistake…they were sitting next to the kid as he played to monitor it for inappropriate content…what the hell more do people expect? Should they just play the game FOR HIM? Anyhow, I think it’s pretty darn impressive that the 6 year old was able to maneuver through the game enough to actually purchase things and given the likeness to other truly “free” games, like Legos series, it is easy to see how he charged up such an amount without knowing it was taking REAL MONEY!
    By the way, after contacting Apple, they IMMEDIATELY reversed the charges without any argument…sounds to me like they, too, see how deceptive these games can be.

  21. this is true! and I know for a fact because i sent a password and parental controls and still got charged 101.98!! Any IN AP purchase is a scam!

  22. I sat and set passwords and parental controls before allowing my 3 year old to play this game (thinking it was harmless) and still got a 101.98 charge on my account. I was shocked and pissed off about the money but Im even more troubled about how many other parents have had the same problem and Apple hasnt done anything about it. The woman I have been dealing with through customer service even admitted she is getting several of these cases just to herself each DAY! and thats just one agent in itunes customer service… there is something wrong here.

  23. How did you go about recovering the money.  We just learned our 7 year old purchase several hundred dollars worth of stars on Tap Zoo!  

  24.  Sorry, but your an idiot for giving her access to your money. Blame the developer if you want to but this is totally on you, you stupid ****.

    On top of this, either your daughter is a good liar and scammer, braindead, or has no mind for money (because you didn’t teach her you dumbass).

  25. Who said anything about bad parenting? Most people just said that parents who allow this to happen and solely blame apple are STUPID. FYI you do need a password to buy the in-app items and the only way it doesn’t ask you for one is if you entered it in the game once before in THE SAME GAME SESSION.

    Either way don’t blame apple for being a dumb ****. Read the messages that pop up on your screen, read the description of the game (which clearly states you can make in app purchases), and for ****s sakes PUT SOME SECURITY ON YOUR iPHONE. You people who blame other things for your own stupidity make me sick. Take responsibility for your STUPID actions and stop blaming apple and the developer, after all you’re supposed to be adults.

  26. A Hole attitude (no kids obviously)

    A 7 year old that has been given access to an iPod and told only Free Games Download which he has stuck to for over a year – he was very upset that his Mums C Card has been hit for a load of money

    Zoo should not be in the Free Apps area there is a cost to the game and it should have a banner across it stating the fact that you pay to play (graphics and game type are designed and aimed at children)

    Wrong – we want our money back and are going to get it 

  27. Well i dont wish to do any name calling in this response. I play Tap Zoo. I Love Tap Zoo!!! I dont kno how everyone else ipod or iphone or whatever device you all may have works but i play it on my iphone and when i want to buy stars or coins then it will ask for the password to my itunes account. Now one time i did notice where it didnt ask and i figured it was because i had JUST made a purchase within like five minutes or less. So you just have to be careful whenever you are playing or the children are playing you jus hav to make sure you dont accidentally purchase anything you dont want. However the game does NOT require any purchases! Buying Coins and stars are for the players who are IMPATIENT!!!!! Like Me!!! But i really enjoy this game and its nothing negative about it!!! I jus want to kno HOW DO YOU GET NEIGHBORS??? That is the only achievement im havn problems with…

  28. You should give Apple back all your devices because “your family” are clearly not smart enough to use them!

  29. When parents hand kids credit cards, they certainally sit down and have a discussion with them?  Why didn’t you have a discussion about this with her?  Most of the time people that are complaining are doing so because they are using multiple devices on one home machine, linked to ONE credit card (typically to save money on purchases — one game on multiple iPads, iPods, etc.).  If you didn’t get your daughter a separate iTunes account, then it is YOUR fault… not Apples.  Apple should respond by suggesting you send back your ixxxx devices to them or open seperate accounts for EACH device.  Dummy!

  30. how did you got the recovering money from apple?, please our child just purchase about $700 for this tap zoo

  31. Tap Zoo is a free app though. It has in app applications, but that is because it needs to. It was made to earn money just like every other app and some people are willing to pay the fees for their zoo. They made it as obvious as they could that the extra stars and coins cost real world money.
    Unfortunately the point may not always get across, so it would be a good idea for parents to sit down with their children and tell them not to buy anything that uses the dollar sign. I have yet to see an app targeted for children that uses the format $0.99 for their fictional money. Tap Zoo uses stars and coins which helps avoid this problem. You can also turn off in app purchases in the settings for your iTouch or iPhone. Or you can make an iTunes account with a concrete amount of money in it and not hook it up to a credit card. This would make it so that children couldn’t spend any more money than whatever you put in the account.

    I highly doubt that you will be getting your money back. What happened was regrettable, but whether or not you think it was unfair, it wasn’t illegal and they need to have then in app purchases in order to continue producing games. 

  32. I have played TapZoo for several months and have spent no money at all. There is plenty of good stuff there for free.

  33. Wow, I am actually kind of amazed about how many idiots there are on here. WHY would you give a kid between the ages of 3 – 10 an Itouch? That is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard, and then you trust them enough not to charge your card? Obviously little Johhny doesn’t want stars, no no no. Little Susie would NEVER want stars for her zoo so she can buy a turtle, no no no. Wow. It boggles my mind. People never cease to shock me.

  34. It is a rip off the game was designed to be unbeatable! It follows the exponential law which meas that it is practically impossible to beat the game without spending lots lots of money. To fully complete the game, you will need to spend thousands of dollars! That is right, thousands of dollars! Or you can cheat the game and finish it without spending a single penny! (that is what i did, and still it was somewhat difficult to achieve level 50).

  35. People please spread the word. I am a physicist and I have studied mathematically tap zoo! Tap zoo levels were designed to be exponential which means that as you reach a new level, it becomes very very very difficult to Progress to the next level. If you decide to Play the game without buying coins or stars it will take you years to complete the game (It might take you a lifetime to complete the game FACT). For this reason, tap zoo is the perfect rip off app because it targets children whome are impatient and want things to happen rapidly, in other words, children want things to be done now, they dont want to wait 7 days for land to appear. Oh, but wait, if you buy X amount of stars for XX amount of money you can upgrade your land instantly!

    you will need to spend thousands of dollars to fully complete the game in 5-6 months! That is right, thousands of dollars! Or you can cheat the game and finish it without spending a single penny! (i cheated the game, I gave myself 999999999 coins and stars, and still it was extremely difficult to progress to levels 33+ because like i said in the introduction, the levels follow an exponential law. i had to give myself a total of approximate of 24999999999 coins to buy all animals and other stuff available in the game.

    One more thing, I went from level 33 to level 50 in one minute because i cheated or else it would have taken me an approximate of 111 days to go from level 33 to 50 even when i had billions of coins and stars!

    In summary, tap zoo is UNBEATABLE (without cheats Of course). Or if you are one of those people who have billions of dollars and dont mind spending a couple million dollars on a game then give it a try!

    Good luck and spread the word so everyone is informed!

  36. I agree, the first thing I did before I let my 13 year old use my iphone was take out my credit card info out of my itunes account. It’s that simple.

  37. I agree, the first thing I did before I let my 13 year old use my iphone was take out my credit card info out of my itunes account. It’s that simple.

  38. I am at level 23, have 253 animals of 92 species, and a zoo “value” of 20,714,115 coins. I have spent no $$.  Did get a few stars by ordering things I needed from JC Penny (no longer available).  You need patience and planning.  I am currently waiting for 9,000,000 coins for my next land purchase. I should get that sometime this evening.  I keep my one nest full all the time and crossbreed as often as I can (currently awaiting a chipmunk). One fun thing is to arrange your animals logically.  I have a South America section and am working on a “sea world” type section.  Love the new rotate function! Now both kinds of anteaters can face the termite mound!

  39. OMG……. I think the idiot is you! really do you have to put it that way? its a game, what about all the people that go out and spend so much money on video games is everyone in the world an idiot, oh except for you right? get real Josh everything cost money and if peps want to spend it on this game then they will, doesn’t mean they are idiots…. Stop being so mean about it.

  40. ImHi Im on Level 13 and have not spent a cent as yet.  Playing on Wifi from my PC conection each evening.  Don’t  buy coins or stars if you don’t want to paye money from your itunes account.  Im enjoying this game more than Happy Park, the amusment park I am allso currently building. 

  41. You are absolutely correct…it does not ask to enter the password for in app purchases on this game…and by the way, my in app purchase setting was disabled and I still got taken!!….I also have identified that even if you download a “free” game, it is REQUIRED by Apple that your credit card information is available for 15 minutes after download…explain that one??

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