Even if you’re not that angry about the rise of free-to-play (or “freemium”) gaming in the world of smartphones and tablets, the latest episode of South Park promises to be a hoot.
It takes aim at the trend of games funded by in-app purchases of virtual items, and judging from reports, nails the flaws of some of the more cynical cash-in titles.
VentureBeat has a good summary of the pitch to characters Terrence and Phillip, who are thinking of starring in their own mobile game:
1.Entice the player with an easy game loop.
2. Compliment the player with flashy casino slots-like rewards and graphics.
3. Train players to spend the in-game currency.
4. Then offer players the chance to spend real money for that in-game currency.
5. Then make the game about waiting, but let them pay to avoid waiting.
It also notes the similarity between the spoof game in South Park, and the very real games based on rival shows The Simpsons and Family Guy. The episode is likely to provoke wry smiles even among defenders of freemium as a business model, but I suspect it may become a rallying point for its critics.
What do you think? If you’ve seen the full episode, do its jabs hit home? And more generally, are you seeing examples of freemium games that aren’t as cynical as the formula above, or do you think the model can’t help but fall into this pattern? The comments section is open for your views.
Also on the tech radar this morning:Encouraging news for anyone who wants Twitter to be doing more to help users – women in particular – who are being harassed on the social network. The company is working with nonprofit group Women, Action & the Media on a better way for people to report harassment, from hate speech to doxxing. A great piece on Google’s Spotlight Stories short films technology, described as “immersive shorts”, which is being pitched to Hollywood. The action is shot in 360 degrees, then the viewer gets to control the point-of-view. “Something that uses advanced tech to reframe storytelling itself,” as Medium’s Steven Levy puts it. PewDiePie isn’t regretting turning off comments on his YouTube videos. “Before I turned off my comments, I think things were going downhill. So, making that change, I feel like we’ve been going back up, and it’s been making me really happy, and it’s been making me really enjoy what I do.” A worrying statement for YouTube, given that he’s its biggest star. The latest on the WireLurker malware for Macs and iOS devices uncovered earlier this week in 467 Mac apps. Apple now says it is blocking those apps in order to prevent people installing them, and then having their mobile devices infected. I suspect there may be less on-stage jabs at Android for malware at the company’s next launch. Tablet maker Nabi, which focuses on children, has a couple of big new devices. Literally big: they’re 20 and 24-inch tablets. The theory being that multiple children can play together on one device. Having seen my two sons’ differing tastes (currently Angry Birds for one and Toca Boca for the other) I’m wondering if there’s a split-screen mode.
What stories have piqued your interest today? Jump in below the line with your recommendations, as well as your thoughts on the stories above.