South Park‘s most recent episode focused in on the addictive nature and business practices of free-to-play games.
There a lot of people who don’t like “freemium” games and for some arguably good reasons. Put simply, their entire business model is pretty much based around getting players addicted to their supposedly free experience and then manipulate them into paying for seemingly small advantages that can gradually add up to a lot of a real world dollars. This unique brand of manipulation took center stage last night in the newest recent episode of South Park.
Entitled Freemium Isn’t Free, the episode focused primarily on Stan and his worsening addiction to a “free” Terrance & Phillip mobile game. Setting aside its many humorous gags (cough The Canadian Department of Mobile Gaming cough), the episode actually did a great job of detailing the arguably shady business model that make many freemium titles profitable. “The truth is, a very small percentage of people who download freemium games ever pay anything for them,” says the Canadian Minister of Mobile Gaming at one point. “It’s all aboot finding the heaviest users and extracting the most amount of cash from them. That’s how you get addicts to pay 200 bucks for a game that’s not even worth 40 cents.”
The episode overall was both solidly funny and a brilliant break down of freemium games and why some might rightfully consider them to be the work of the (Canadian) devil. It’s also, of course, not the first the long running comedy series has tackled the subject of video games. Back in 2006, the episode Make Love Not Warcraft paid humorous homage to the famous MMORPG. Last year’s three part Black Friday storyline also served as a dual parody of Game of Thrones and the conflicts between console fans. If you’re interested in watching Freemium isn’t Free for yourself, the full episode is available for free viewing at the official South Park website.
Source: South Park Studios