In-app mobile game purchases are now making more money from tapping things than King Midas, and they result in more people sitting around doing nothing but making someone else richer. The Cracked Research Team decided to investigate these software Skinner boxes, because the Cracked Research Team is what I call myself to feel better about playing iPad in my underpants all day. Note: "iPad in my underpants" is not a euphemism.
The uncropped version of this picture is NSFW in every possible way.
I spent a day trapped inside the top-grossing games like a smartphone Houdini, and as a service to Cracked readers, I worked out some better replacements.
4Kim Kardashian: Hollywood
Glu Games Inc
One of the most famous free-to-play games now is Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (which sucked $500 out of a Jezebel writer), because when we think of things that definitely aren't being done only for money, we think Kardashian. The game started as it meant to go on: by giving me pointless chores. The first thing you're told to do is fold some shirts -- it's like the game is taunting you for playing it instead of doing anything useful -- and at no point does it ever get better. Because the game knows that if the player tolerates this pointless bullshit, they have nothing better to do.
Glu Games Inc
Even the game looks disappointed in me for playing it.
Within moments, you meet Kim, and it really gets insulting. You're given multiple dialogue options, and I played through multiple times to confirm that they don't do a damn thing. No matter what you choose, the game says "Well done!" pats you on the head, gives you a shower of golden popularity and money, and moves on to the next stage. Even scientists sticking rats in mazes react when the rat does something different, but this software doesn't have the same level of care for its subjects. Baby activity centers have more interactivity, and an opposite effect on your mental age.
Fashion shows, dates, publicity shots ... every event is "click on the next button," and then "click on the same button seven times in a row, because honestly even the game's designers could not be bothered with it." The trick is that the events give you an hour to press as many buttons as possible, but not enough energy to press all the buttons, and then charges you real actual cash to make up the difference.
Glu Games Inc
A virtual woman is claiming she's too tired to do anything unless I pay more. This is the most depressing fantasy I've ever played.
You can buy lightning bolts for K-stars, which cost real money, and I really wish that was drug slang, because then this experiment would be way more fun. And I wouldn't now know that people volunteer for the most pointless chores in the world and then pay to skip them. But I do*, which is why my next article will be about building and setting off EMPs.
I used a touchpen to access this screen, because if this touchscreen isn't recording
the fingerprints of people who pay for later "processing," it really should be.
*This game has grossed $200 million.
A Better Solution:
Get The Great Gatsby on e-book and zoom in until a single sentence fills the screen. You'll get a better tale of celebrity and wasted time, the same amount of screen tapping, and exactly the same level of gameplay.
3Clash of Clans
Clash of Clans looks better than Kardashian because it's an actual game. Unfortunately they turned a decent base-building game into a stop-motion animation by inserting delay counters behind every button press. You can skip these delays with gems, which I did, because Clash of Clans starts you with a stash of these and explicitly teaches you to use them in the tutorial.
"Now let's practice saying numbers -- quick, get your parents' credit card!"
It's actually a lot of fun, until you run out of gems and everything crashes to a halt. The game said I could find more gems in the store, so I took a quick look, and I'm now more convinced of capitalism's failure than the spirit of Marx haunting Donald Trump's golden toilets.
$100 purchases? In terms of cost-benefit, I'd be better off using 70 pounds (I'm in the U.K.) to waft air across my crotch, even if I couldn't use the bills later.
About to perform vital Cracked research, hoping the local shopkeepers don't read this article.
The developers saw those evil fictional drug dealers from '80s PSAs saying "The first one's free" and thought, "That's a brilliant idea!" My cash-cooled crotch gave me the strength to carry on through their evil, where I discovered the second stage of their plan. Playing without money means every order takes five or 10 minutes to complete, so I had to keep coming back to the iPad to send the next order, interrupting anything else I was doing. This game doesn't just destroy the value of the money you have; it destroys your ability to ever make more. Technology couldn't ruin the concept of money more completely without printing dollar bills on antimatter.
A Better Solution:
Install SETI@Home, Asteroids@Home, and DNA@Home, and then try to play the original Command & Conquer. You'll get a much better game and just as many staggering delays between clicking on something and it actually happening, but now your life will be adding to human progress instead of actively reversing it.