South Park Trashes “Freemium” Games Like The Simpsons: Tapped Out
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker turned their cynical eyes towards “freemium” mobile games last night, completely trashing games such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out for their money-grubbing game mechanics.
Freemium games are games which on a surface level require no money to play whatsoever, instead coaxing players to hand over money for more in-game stuff in order to earn their revenue. There have been many tales of “free” games eventually costing their players thousands of dollars, due to them either growing absurdly addicted or, in many cases, children grabbing a hold of their smartphone/tablet and unwittingly purchasing a whole bunch of items for real money.
In the episode, titled ‘Freemium Isn’t Free,’ the Canadian Minister of Mobile Games invents a game featuring Terrance & Phillip that is uncannily similar to The Simpsons: Tapped Out, which tasks players with collecting items by tapping their screens. Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman rightly point out that the game is overwhelmingly dull, though Stan becomes addicted to it and begins to spend thousands of dollars on in-game currency in order to improve his in-game town… much like a certain other real-life mobile game.
In the end Randy Marsh stages an intervention with both Stan and his gambling addict Grandpa, and as is typically the case in any South Park episode involving Stan’s dad, hilarity ensues.
Check out a clip of the episode below:
While there are plenty of great mobile games on both iOS and Android (my personal recommendation would be the addictive puzzle game Threes and the excellent Ridiculous Fishing), freemium games are becoming more and more prominent on the App Store and Google Play Store, and this episode was a great send-up of the thought process that goes into the creation of one.
South Park has previously tackled hot topics in gaming culture in the episodes ‘Make Love Not Warcraft,’ which parodied World of Warcraft addiction, and the two-parter ‘Black Friday,’ which looked at the fruitless and redundant Xbox One vs. PS4 debate that raged on prior to the release of both consoles. While this episode didn’t quite live up to the high standards set by those three episodes, it was certainly a funny look at the landscape of mobile gaming.