The Daily Show Hates Freemium Games Just As Much As We Do [Humor]

Here at Cult of Mac, we’ve got our own axe to grind against freemium App Store games that try to get kids to max out their daddy’s credit cards with expensive in-app purchases, so it’s nice to see The Daily Show take freemium game makers to town in an absolutely hilarious, spot-on segment that shows how scummy these waters of the App Store can really be.

The report is by Daily Show correspondent Aasiv Mandvi, who reports primarily on a game called Tap Fish 2, which gives kids control of their own fish tank… and charges a pretty penny if kids want to, say, feed their favorite fish more found when they run out, instead of just watching them swim, suffer, then die.

According to Tap Fish 2‘s creators at Gameview Studios, this teaches kids valuable life lessons about responsibility… lessons that a developmental expert also interviewed by Mandvi says are completely lost on kids, who are willing to max out their parents’ credit cards just to avoid seeing a “living creature” die.

This report is a complete skewering of disreputable freemium game makers. The best part is when Gameview Studios CEO Rizwan Virk visibly squirms when Mandvi suggests they call the parent of a child who spent over $1500 on in-app purchases in Tap Fish 2 on the phone, saying he’d prefer to deal with such an encounter “via e-mail.” I bet he would: the parent eventually heaps obscenities upon Virk for twenty minutes.

Mandvi’s brief encapsulation of the freemium trend is just perfect: “Turns out these games are free, up until the point when you don’t want them to suck.” Indeed.

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  • facebook-602274890

    Just saw this earlier this morning (catching up on my DVR).  I LOL’d :)

  • Jordan Clay

    I feel like the father should be ashamed of himself for giving 100% access of his credit card to his child.  He could have turned off IN APP purchasing.   It is the goal of these companies to make money.  I’m not saying that putting a button in for $100 in fish bucks is entirely ethical but they have a right to exist

  • Adam Kontras

    We’re tech nerds.  We know that.  It’s completely understandable that this father didn’t.  But there’s no way they charged $1500 without some emails goin’ to dad… is there?

  • Rizwan Virk

    I think a healthy discussion of the freemium business model is a good thing. 

    But to rely on a “fake news” show for “facts” and to form your opinion isn’t the smartest way to go about it.  You said “… the parent eventually heaps obscenities upon Virk for twenty minutes.”  

    This is completely inaccurate – I was there.  The parent actually found Virk reasonable and thanked him at the end of the call – admitting that he’d gotten a full refund from Apple many months before and that he’d given kids his itunes password.    

    Of course that doesn’t make good TV so they didn’t show the actual conversation with the parent!

    If you’re going to write about the call with the parent – it should include what really happened.  Read my response here:  http://zenentrepreneur.blogspo…  (Top 10 Things the Daily Show Got Wrong About Tap Fish).

  • Connor Mulcahey

    I hate all these types of greedy developers that prey on kids. If you look at the top grossing apps on the store, many of them are free or 99c games that give a virtual pet (tap fish, tap pet hotel) or have a virtual currency (dragon game and surfs) I wish apple wood reject these people from the app store. There are much better ways to teach a kid responsibility than buying virtual pet food and surf berries on an iPad. As a developer myself, most of my apps are free because they are simple utilities, I only charge $2 for one so I can break even when I renew my membership every year. In app purchases were meant to be for large add ons like a subscription to a magazine or news service, a large amount of level packs, something that the developer puts a lot of time an effort into creating, not some virtual crap that takes no make more of.

  • Mike Rathjen

    I don’t understand why a CEO would agree to an interview with the Daily Show. Surely he knows what’s coming?

  • mobile gamer

    The CEO posted his response here – well worth a read: The Top 10 Things The Daily Show Got Wrong About Tap Fish – http://bit.ly/ff9czw – gotta love the daily show!

  • ivucica

    Gee, thanks for US-only Hulu clip.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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