Here is a moral dilemma: getting shamelessly addicted to a blatantly superficial app centered around pretend fame, while in the real world, the actual celebrity is the one cashing in.
“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” launched three weeks ago and has absolutely blown up. The app has maintained a five-star status, with over 50,000 customer ratings, in the Apple App Store. Not enough? The app is also predicted to make $200 million in revenue by the end of this year.
So, what exactly is so enticing about this smartphone app?
The game’s focus on fame is surely one of the contributing factors. You begin the game as an aspiring celebrity rising to fame, with the help of Kim Kardashian (who, you know, everyone just randomly meets when they live in Hollywood).
Right off the bat, an agent, publicist, countless magazine spreads and event appearances are thrown at your character. Rushing around Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and occasionally Miami (to work at Kim’s “Kardash” store, of course), users experience a pretty stereotypical view of the Hollywood rise to fame.
There is something undeniably exhilarating about rushing from place to place, getting tweeted about and slowly gaining a fan base. This juggling of tasks in order to reach the top does give the illusion of fame and what the rise may be like, but the gameplay is incredibly simplistic.
This is another reason why the app has likely gained so much popularity – it’s a game for people who aren’t gamers. Tasks in the game are conquered by multiple taps on the screen.
For example, going to your own birthday party? You might be offered a hand hug by Kim. Going to a runway? Make sure to smile with your eyes! On a date? Do some flirting. That’s pretty much the extent of the app’s gameplay.
Most tasks take away energy points from the player. Some tasks only require one energy point and give minimal rewards to the player, while other tasks require more energy points to generate larger profit. The waiting game comes when you run out of energy. Yes, this is one of those apps that gives you very little for in-game resources and then prompts you to pay real money when you run out.
The other option is to put the smartphone aside and wait for these energy points to refuel (one energy point every five minutes). This makes playing the game in lengthy periods pretty difficult, which is probably for the best. The game is enjoyable in small doses – fitting, since the cycle of play seems to be to use all of your energy, go back to reality and then to revisit the game some time later after refueling on energy points.
Users are also given the option to network with other characters, those programmed specifically for the game, along with friends who have also downloaded the app. It makes for an interesting social media element of the game.
“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” also does a decent job emulating how small choices can effect one’s fame. Is it better to get in a nasty war with a more famous celebrity or to let it go and move on? Should you slack on this guest appearance if it means you can use more energy on something more important? Each of these small decisions can potentially garner more fans or turn some away. It is impressive that such a simple app allows for changing and dynamic gameplay based on user action.
Truth be told, there really isn’t much inherently bad about the app. It’s free to download, it’s a great time passer, it’s easy to play and the interface is well designed. The prospect of imaginary fame is also a guilt-inducing pleasure that surely has users returning to the game.
“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” is an all around solid app revolving around Hollywood life and fame. The real dilemma is whether you actually want to spend your free time playing the Kim Kardashian app.
The app is available for free download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for iOS and Android platforms.
Collegian Features and Entertainment Editor Keegan Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.