5 Ways Free iPhone Games Con You Out of Your Money

Like 99.9999 percent of all pay apps are either flagrantly useless to our evolutionary survival or just bullshit copies of flash games you can play for free on the Internet. App makers know this, which is why some of the most lucrative apps this year got that way by offering the game for free, followed by a little-known moneymaking technique the industry likes to call "scamming the fuck out of you."

Now, don't get us wrong: Anyone who claims they've never spent money on a smart-phone app is the next Unabomber. However, the next time your finger is hovering over that 99 cent "buy" icon, all we ask is that you take a moment to consider that ...

#5. Apps Intentionally Look Stupid to Weed Out the Willing

Ever wonder why Nigerian email scammers still use the same shit-grammar tale of royal riches to lure their victims, when anyone with half a brain can instantly tell they're full of shit? Because it's the people with less than half a brain that they're interested in. By using such an obvious scam, they're able to weed out the rare patches of people incapable of detecting obvious red flags. It's kind of the same sample you get when, we dunno, you put out a game specifically for Kim Kardashian fans.

play.google.com
Shouldn't have picked the "Say Jews control Hollywood" button.

So while there certainly are apps created with techniques to prey on dumb children or addiction-prone gamblers (three of the current most profitable apps are slot machines), most of us don't see ourselves standing in the sucker column. After all, the average person is way too world savvy to- OH GOD IT'S A JURASSIC PARK GAME!!!

Ludia/Universal Studios
The Nedry "ah ah ah" program pops up when you run out money.

See, you can point and laugh all you want at the people buying Kardashian's digital approval, but to them, spending $50 on a collection of pixels shaped like a T-Rex sounds as ludicrous (?!) as wasting it on cartoon drawings of shoes sounds to you. It's all about exploiting that stupid part of everyone's brain that tells him or her to buy scratch tickets and keep watching The Walking Dead -- because maybe it's worth it this time.

#4. They'll String You Along, but the "Rewards" Aren't Worth It

One of the most successful games this year didn't include celebrities or dinosaurs. It simply reclined on the sweet cushion of gambling. MyVegas Slots is an app where you crank on slots in exchange for fake money that will eventually buy you real rewards at hotels and casinos around the Strip.

PlayStudios
Unfortunately, all you can get with 100 points is "drunken fight with pit boss" or "gonorrhea."

Not too shabby, right? If you happen to be in the area and feel like some extracurricular gambling, then why not buy some fake money and use it to get real prizes? Surely 100,000 magic bullshit coins must be worth $50 in freeplay or getting those two $100 Cirque du Soleil tickets for cheap can free up some dough for the mescaline beforehand. It's simple economics.

MGM Grand Las Vegas
You've been here for, like, 20 years. It's time to start spelling it "Circus."

Scratch that: It's simple economics so long as you like paying way more than what something is worth. Sure, you can play the game for free and still score prizes if you're patient, but this guy ran the math: One free night at the Luxor, "an undrinkable margarita, [and] a terrible breakfast" cost him 120 hours of playing, or $3,326 worth of his time, based on his salary. You can make it go way faster if you cough up money ... but then we're back where we started. In scamming lingo this is called a "clip joint," which is a business that sells watered-down goods (like, literally watered-down alcohol, for example) for higher prices while throwing in as many opportunities for the saps involved to waste cash. So pretty much the entire economy of Las Vegas.

Any fan of Kardashian's game would recognize this description as "koins" -- a fake monetary system in the game that buys you things like "energy," a crucial element in order to complete tasks in the game.

Glu Games
For 5,000 koins, you get to watch your husband fuck a phoenix.

Five energy costs six koins. And what do koins kost?

Glu Games
Shouldn't an accurate Kardashian game just give you money for doing absolutely nothing?

Those kocks! Actual hard-earned dollars. So, by putting as many steps between your wallet and the fact that they are charging for something that is essentially useless, somehow that makes the buy more logical. Especially when you are under the gun ...

#3. Giving Us a Time Limit Makes Us Spend More Money

Classic cons like the Spanish Prisoner usually exploit the fact that the average human body will secrete hilarious amounts of cash if you stick a timer in front of its face: They'll tell you that you can get rich if you act fast, and your brain goes, "Holy shit, I'd be a Class-A chump if I let this opportunity pass!" This is why limited-time store sales exist and, in a way more literal sense, why so many apps use the concept of time to punish you for not spending money. Remember this little guy?

King
Admit it: How many of you just reflexively threw all your pocket change at the screen?

But, while games like Candy Crush simply make you wait a half hour to get your lives back, Kardashian's Kash Kow is actually designed so that your ability to win the game is directly linked to how long it takes you to complete a task -- so when they follow that up by not letting you replenish energy for a long amount of time, you have no choice but to pay. They are essentially selling your own time back to you. Time you could have spent talking to a psychologist about why you're still playing Kardashian's game.

There is, of course, Door Number 3, which is to actually get people to download other apps and sign up for stupid shit in exchange for not paying money and not waiting. This means that they are actually making you waste your time so you don't waste more time wasting time on the game. The incredible cherry being that Kardashian's new app is filled with comments like this:

play.google.com
What does the game have to do for you to drop to a three-star rating? Literally take a shit on you?

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