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Kim Kardashian closing free mobile game that made her millions

Jan 12

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Kim Kardashian’s popular, free-to-play mobile game is in its final months, the billionaire announced last week. The closure is not sitting well with some of the hardcore fans who have been building in-game clout over the past decade from their phones.

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood tasks users with moving from the E-list in Tinsel Town all the way to the upper rungs of society.

Players run chic boutiques, attend club and store openings, and star in photoshoots. They also start families and own property across the globe. They can use in-game and real-world currency to customize their avatars.

“I’m so grateful from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has loved and played Kim Kardashian: Hollywood in the past 10 years,” Kardashian said in a statement to Straight Arrow News. “This journey has meant so much to me but I’ve realized that it’s time to focus that energy into other passions.”

Users can’t download the app anymore as stores have removed it. The game will officially shut down for existing users April 8, according to a pop-up message from in-game reporter Ray Powers that greets players the moment they start the app. At that point, all of the in-game purchases and currency will disappear.

Initially released in 2014, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood was a huge success, reaching 42 million downloads and $157 million in sales its first two years, despite being free to play.

“This journey has meant so much to me but I’ve realized that it’s time to focus that energy into other passions.”

Kim Kardashian on closure of mobile game

The birth of microtransactions

Microtransactions have become a huge part of gaming over the last two decades, allowing people to spend real money to buy virtual goods within a game’s ecosystem.

These transactions are generally $5 and under but can get far more expensive. They are most prominent in free-to-play mobile games, which have been dubbed “freemium,” but they appear in games across all platforms.

Microsoft first brought the idea to the table in 2005 as it launched the Xbox 360 console and its brand-new marketplace. The next year, Bethesda Studios sold the Horse Armor Pack for $2.50 in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

The global microtransaction market grew to $76.66 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach $117.95 billion in 2027, according to The Business Research Company.

In most “freemium” mobile games, microtransactions allow you to pay to progress. They also often offer cosmetic upgrades like skins and emotes. Loot boxes randomize the experience but have many regulators comparing the process to gambling.

Microtransaction trouble

The ease of making microtransactions has turned into a nightmare for some. There was a 6-year-old Connecticut boy who spent $16,000 of his parents’ money on an iPad game, a Belgian boy who charged $50,000 to his grandfather’s credit card for in-game gold in a mobile game, and a Chinese teen who depleted her family’s savings by spending $64,000 on mobile games over four months.

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission accused Fortnite-maker Epic Games of using tricks known as “dark patterns” to charge players without informed consent. The FTC ordered Epic to pay $245 million in refunds for unwanted microtransactions. Gamers have until the end of February to apply.

Fortnite made $1.1 billion in mobile revenue alone before being banned from the Google Play and Apple App stores. The ban was over the gaming company creating a direct payment system to work around app store transaction fees, which resulted in big-time lawsuits between the three tech giants.

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[ttteebzzzz]

Like, I know this seems really stupid.

[Juliaparisse]

I’m seriously heartbroken. My 2024 is off to a really sh!tty start.

[Simone Del Rosario]

Tell me, what has you so torn up?

[juliaparisse]

Kim K: Hollywood is shutting down. This app is like my everything. I play it every frickin day.

[Cremedelacreme626]

Some people do drugs, some people rob and steal and kill, I play Kim Kardashian, this is what I do in my free time.

[Simone Del Rosario]

I’m sorry to say, it’s time for a new hobby — hopefully a legal one.

After 10 years, the free-to-play mobile game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is closing its red carpet April 8.

The socialite-turned-billion-dollar-businesswoman confirmed the news in a statement, saying, “This journey has meant so much to me but I’ve realized that it’s time to focus that energy into other passions.”

Now before you go, “Simone, you’re really doing a story about Kim Kardashian’s mobile game?” Give me a minute. We’re going somewhere with this.

Alright, back to it.

Since 2014, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood has really sucked people in.

[Chillchillchillchill]

It did not matter where I was, if I got that little notification, I was clocking in. You know, like, Grandpa’s funeral? Sorry, me and Khloé gotta go make an appearance at 1 OAK.

[Cremedelacreme626]

“Her hair piece match her bag. Look at her nails. And the dog. I got the dog in real life.”

[Simone Del Rosario]

Which is why this pop up has people shook.

It’s not on app stores anymore, while existing players get this message from in-game reporter Ray Powers with an ominous countdown of when the app disappears for good.

According to app maker Glu, 42 million people downloaded the app in less than two years. In that time, players spent 35,000 years playing the game. In two years! It’s been around now for 10.

But players spent a lot more on the free app than just their time.

[Ttteebzzzz]
Like, I had spent, like, money on this stupid app because I never thought it’d go away.

[Llyrfalen]
I promise y’all, I’ve spent upwards of $3,000 on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood over the last, what, 10 years, and now she’s shutting it down. Kimberly, ma’am.

[Simone Del Rosario]

In the same two years where people spent 35,000 years playing, Kim Kardashain: Hollywood raked in more than $157 million in sales, and since then, untold amounts of change.

Welcome to the world of freemium games and microtransactions.

[South Park]

Freemium, the mium is Latin for not really.

Whereas those just use the concept of XP or experience points, we’ve introduced the idea of micropaying with money. Money, money, money, money, money, money.

[Simone Del Rosario]

See, I told you I was going somewhere.

Microtransactions – typically $5 bucks and under – let people to buy virtual goods within a game’s ecosystem.

Microsoft first brought the idea to life in 2005. Wired called it, “the online store of the future.”

And in 2006, Bethesda Studios latched on, selling the Horse Armor Pack for $2.50 in The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.

Since then, microtransactions have become a part of nearly every game.

[Lukestephenstv]

So many people buy it that it accounts for billions of dollars in revenue.

[Simone Del Rosario]

Hey! Don’t steal my thunder.

But he’s right, global microtransaction revenue was valued at about $75 billion in 2023, and is expected to grow to $118 billion by 2027.

That’s like the annual revenue of AT&T.

[AT&T]

What’s the biggest number you can think of? A trillion billion zillion! That’s pretty big.

[Simone Del Rosario]

In most “freemium” mobile games, you pay to progress. They also offer cosmetic upgrades like skins and emotes. Then there’s the dreaded loot box, which many regulators have likened to gambling. But that’s a story for another day.

The annals of the internet are littered with nightmare microtransaction stories. Like the 6-year-old Connecticut boy who spent $16,000 of his parents’ money on an iPad game; a Belgian boy who charged $50k to his grandfather’s credit card for in-game gold in a mobile game; and a Chinese teen who depleted her family’s savings, spending $64 grand on mobile games over four months.

[South Park]

Freemium games are what’s now! And it’s all just a lot of harmless fun.

[Simone Del Rosario]

Right…

[FTC]

“Hey Fortnite Players, you might be eligible for a refund!”

[Simone Del Rosario]

This one caused enough harm to get the government’s attention. The FTC accused Fortnite-maker Epic Games of using design tricks known as “dark patterns” to charge players without informed consent.

Epic Games is ordered to pay $245 million in refunds for unwanted microtransactions, and gamers have until the end of February to apply.

Don’t cry for them just yet. Fortnite made $1.1 billion in mobile revenue alone before getting banned from Google Play and Apple App stores. That was for creating a direct payment system to work around Google and Apple’s in-game transaction fees. Again, a story for another day.