My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Glu Mobile's Kim Kardashian Hollywood App and How an A-List Celebrity boosts In-App Purchases

Monday, August 18, 2014

Glu Mobile's Kim Kardashian Hollywood App and How an A-List Celebrity boosts In-App Purchases

“In addition to her in-game audio commentary, she provided a significant amount of creative feedback. She hand-selected the majority of the outfits, accessories, hairstyles, and other in-game items – and her deep involvement continues as we roll out updates and new content – from the aesthetics to new locations and features”

Glu Mobile Chief Executive Officer Niccolo de Masi commenting on the success of the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood App

Kim Kardashian might think I’m E-List, but her Kim Kardashian: Hollywood launched on Wednesday July 25th 2014 is smoking hot as is her picture below.

Her latest venture, an App called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is on its ways to becoming a potential mega hit for App Developer Glu Mobile as stated in the article “Why 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' Is A $200 Million Hit App” published 7/16/2014 @ 8:03AM by Maseena Ziegler, Forbes.  Their stock Price is already up and so is their App on the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play Store Charts!

The Kim Kardashian: Hollywood App, which is free to download, makes money mainly from In-App purchases. It’s well on its way to making close to US$200 million by December 2014. Currently on Google Play Store, it has an average ranking of 4.3 by some 250,000 persons and a solid Gold rating of 5 from some 40,000 downloaders on the Apple iTunes Store.

But the most surprising stat of all is the rate at which it’s generating revenue, reaching some US$1.6 million in the first five (5) days since it was posted on Wednesday July 25th 2014 on the Apple iTunes Store as well as Google Play Store. At that rate assuming the same rate every five (5) days, it’ll reach approximately US$50 million; apparently the people doing the calculations are way more optimistic than me!

And that’s just the Game, as there are reports of her planning to do a book soon as stated in “On the Heels of Her App Comes Kim Kardashian: The Book”, published 11:42 am ET Aug 11, 2014 By LYNEKA LITTLE, Wall Street Journal.

So why would a game about a Celebrity with her own Television Reality show and a set of stores selling clothes that she and her sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian designed together be a hit? I’m not being sarcastic, as I don‘t do sarcasm; this genuinely puzzles me, as most people balk at the prospect for spending real money on virtual goods in a game made by people who are already loaded…..except if it’s smurfberries of course.

Those are worth every dollar. But why Keep up with the Kardashians?

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood – Anatomy of a 5 Star Game about an A-List Celebrity

First off the bat is the developers Glu Mobile. They originally approached Kim Kardashian to advise them in the making of the App, choosing to combine her celebrity and their tried-and-tested Gaming model from a previous hit game name Stardom Hollywood.

 With her consent, they decided to rebrand it with her name as stated in “The Mastermind Behind Kim Kardashian's Insanely-Popular App Explains How The Hit Game Was Created”, published AUG. 10, 2014, 8:35 AM, by STEVEN TWEEDIE, Business Insider.

In fact if you watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, you’ll soon notice that in some episodes she’ll soon start making stop over visits at Glu Mobile’s San Francisco, California Headquarters to give her personal input on the latest of what she’s wearing so the game remains current.

Note that it was with her consent and DIRECT INPUT, as she personally voices her character and chooses every stitch of the outfits, accessories and hairstyles, effectively infusing her personality into the game. That alone explains its popularity, as once players know that very thing had her input, they are guaranteed that the App is the closest they'll ever get to actually talking to her.

If you remember my article on YouTubers and the reason why they're popular as per my blog article entitled “Variety Survey says YouTubers more popular than Hollywood Celebrities – Popularity driven by Teenage Fandoms and iCarly Effect”, you'd realize that by having her own Game, she's effectively leveraging the iCarly Effect. 

Fans feel a more personal connection knowing this, in much the same way they can connect with their YouTube heart throbs via Social Media. Apps aren't, strictly speaking Social Media. But the fact that the Apps update almost weekly with her latest clothing and shoes and accessories that she wears on her hit TV Series Keeping up with the Kardashians gives you the impression that you are LITERALLY keeping up with her and getting actual advice in her Voice.

It’s that personal touch, much in the same way that Rapper Andre Romelle Young aka Dr. Dre personally chooses the music in the Beats Audio Streaming service, which makes all the difference. Customer feel a more personal connection to a Celebrity if they realize that which they’re buying has the personal touch and input of a famous Celebrity.

Combined with Celebrity Advertising and their 70% rate of conversion of Free to Paid accounts, it goes a long way to explaining why Apple was willing to shell out some US$3.2 billion to purchase Beats Electronics as noted in my blog article entitled Apple officially confirms Beats Audio Purchase - US$3.2 Billion as Apple gears up for Subscription Streaming and improved Headphones”.

A similar concept applies to the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood Game. To her fans, most like the one that gave it that solid 5-Star rating in the Apple iTunes Store, it comes off thus as an accurate walk through her glamorous lifestyle.

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood – How to play a Game that takes you From E-List to A-List

The concept behind her game is blessedly simple. In fact, it’s no different from any Casual Game. But the Game is anything but casual if you have to be Keeping up with Kim Kardashian.

Kim Kardashian, who plays a kind of Demi-God in the game, guides you from the lower rungs of Hollywood society as a E-Lister, reserved for bloggers like myself, to the very tippy-top of that pyramid, the A-Listers. And based on the reviews thus far, the game’s extremely addictive like smurfberries was for Apple as pointed out in “Apple to refund at least $32.5M for kids' in-App purchases”, published January 15, 2014 9:24 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News.

To leave the lowly confines of being an E-Lister and become an A-Lister in Kim Kardashian’s World, you literally have to spend through the nose via making hundreds and potentially thousands of dollars in In-App purchases. You’ve become an A-Lister by following her sage advice, which often involves doing jobs and taking advice from the ever-present Demi-God Kim Kardashian.

But there's a catch; tasks require Energy, represented by packs of Lightning Bolts of various values of K-Stars, the equivalent in Kim Kardashian World which you must purchase in order to do tasks. With the frustration of waiting hours to build up your energy naturally, you'll eventually be tempted to add a Credit Card and purchase those K-Stars to start popping those Energy Bolts, which surprisingly looks a lot like the White Lady.

Here’s a sneak peek of the prices of the most popular In-App purchases:

1.      Small Star Pack US$4.99
2.      Medium Star Pack US$9.99
3.      Small Cash Stack US$4.99
4.      Large Star Pack US$19.99
5.      Rising Star Pack US$3.99
6.      Medium Cash Stack US$9.99
7.      Rising Star Special US$1.99
8.      XL Star Pack US$39.99
9.      Quick-charge Energy US$4.99
10.  Large Cash Stack US$19.99

At this point you can see why I made reference to the smurfberries, as this is a classic example of a game with In-App purchasing fuelled by a Celebrity Stars direct input, that being the Smurfs Movie. Knowing that is enough for fans who downloaded this App, who probably regard Kim Kardashian: Hollywood as their replacement for the Siri Voice Assistant or even the female Smurfette!

Like that game involving the little blue guys, you’ll soon find yourself impulsively reaching got your Credit Card to purchase K-Stars and popping pills….er…I mean Lightning Bolts of Energy. All just in a bid to keep up with Kim Kardashian and her witty commentary that is done in her actual voice!

All part of the charm of the game that makes you fall under her spell….and slowly run up your Credit Card Bill as noted in “The Evil Genius of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood”, published August 07, 2014 By Emma Rosenblum, BusinessWeek.

Keeping up Kim Kardashian – Celebrity based Apps propel In-App Purchases

Because the App follows so closely what going on the show and is frequently updated by her personally, her fans and following grow as they see the App as yet another way to connect with her. This drives the desire to be like her and follow her advice to be an A-Lister in a game that a fairly accurate representation of the vacuous and image-conscious Hollywood.

But it's an expensive trip.

From there, according to Tracie Egan Morrissey of Jezebel in her article “Oh God, I Spent $494.04 Playing the Kim Kardashian Hollywood App”, published  7/01/14 2:15pm by Tracie Egan Morrissey, Jezebel you can easily burn through approximately US$500 just to make it up to the A-List and still be unable to Keep up with the Kardashians.

Game Developers Take note!

Aside from making an addictive game App like Flappy Birds and making money from In-App Advertising as noted in my blog article entitled “Developer Dong Nguyen takes down US$50000 a day Flappy Bird App - Unwanted Media Attention leaves DotGears Game as the first In-App Advertising Gaming App”, you can also make an App using a Celebrity as your muse… long as they approve of you using their likeness in the Video Game.

But this Game’s promise of fame and glamour if you choose to just keep buying K-Stars to do the tasks that she bids you do ensure you’ll be spending a long time just trying to Keep up with the Kardashians. Therein, it sees, lays its secret genius.

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