South Park Takes On Free-to-Play Games in Freemium Isn't Free

StewShearerOld

Geekdad News Writer
Jan 5, 2013
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South Park Takes On Free-to-Play Games in Freemium Isn't Free


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 <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/south%20park>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 <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/129638-South-Park-Spoofs-PS4-Xbox-One-Console-Wars>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 <a href=http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s18e06-freemium-isnt-free>official South Park website.

Source: <a href=http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s18e06-freemium-isnt-free>South Park Studios


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COMaestro

Vae Victis!
May 24, 2010
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I'm going to have to watch this one. Sounds hilarious!

Bets on if South Park ever touches the GamerGate issue? Maybe in a year or two?
 

Zontar

Mad Max 2019
Feb 18, 2013
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South Park is still brilliant, it's as simple as that. How they have managed to keep the show consistently high in quality with such a wide cast of memorable, colourful characters is beyond me. And this season seems to have a lot of metagags for the binge watchers.

EDIT: upon reflection, I think it's clear that the two are actually Zeno.
 

Zontar

Mad Max 2019
Feb 18, 2013
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COMaestro said:
I'm going to have to watch this one. Sounds hilarious!

Bets on if South Park ever touches the GamerGate issue? Maybe in a year or two?
If they to touch it at all, it will be when it's still a think. Remember that these guys came make an episode on the spot (the 2008 presidential ones was written ahead of time to take into account either winning, and then animated and aired the day after the election). They hit when it's topical, when it will have the most punch. If the touch it at all, it will be before the end of the season or the first few of the next one (if it's the type which cuts off for the winter, I don't really know if it is).
 

Scarim Coral

Jumped the ship
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Oct 29, 2010
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How if only EA take a note or two from that scene for their awful Dungeon Keeper game.

Wow, that indeed accurate to the whole freemium concept.
 

sirjeffofshort

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Oct 2, 2012
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The moment this episode started my friend groaned and said "Oh great, Jeff's gonna have a ton to say about this episode." He was wrong. The episode pretty much said it all.
 

FalloutJack

Bah weep grah nah neep ninny bom
Nov 20, 2008
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It's pretty much...

*Sunglasses go on*

...on the money.


Actually, you could probably use a video like that to explain bitcoins too.
 

Alcom1

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Jun 19, 2013
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I've never been particularity fond of the giant orange space hippo from Mars, but this bit was brilliant!
 

Hero in a half shell

It's not easy being green
Dec 30, 2009
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Does it count as satire if it's actually 100% accurate... because that was a completely accurate summation of exactly what 'freemium' is.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

Bound to escape
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Jul 15, 2013
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Just finished watching that episode aboot 15mins ago, i wondered "Hmm, how long will it be before news of this appears on the escapist?" I log on here and lo n behold...it has appeared!! ;)
 

FYI I Am Some Guy

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Aug 24, 2010
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There are a small, small number of games that do freemium properly. I'd say Card Hunter, or maybe Terra battle are good examples. Sadly, most are exploitative guff. I could see the episode actually being really informative.
 

JCAll

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Oct 12, 2011
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Maybe
Hero in a half shell said:
Does it count as satire if it's actually 100% accurate... because that was a completely accurate summation of exactly what 'freemium' is.
Maybe they could have added a little "This is what Freemium Deveolpers actually believe" banner.
 

Saulkar

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Aug 25, 2010
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Topical, maybe they could have created a parody pf Mechwarrior: Online as that game is just horrid when it comes to this practice.

StewShearer said:
the full episode is available for free viewing at the <a href=http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s18e06-freemium-isnt-free>official South Park website.
No, no it is not. It never is and never was. I am going talk about this somewhere else. (cannot even force myself to write a-boot as one word)
 

FirstNameLastName

Premium Fraud
Nov 6, 2014
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i didn't even know there was a new season of south park. To be honest, as much as i love south park the last season was a little more patchy than usual, less 'hit' and lot more 'miss'. Regardless, I'll probably still watch it anyway.
 

Leemaster777

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Feb 25, 2010
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FYI I Am Some Guy said:
There are a small, small number of games that do freemium properly. I'd say Card Hunter, or maybe Terra battle are good examples. Sadly, most are exploitative guff. I could see the episode actually being really informative.
Hearthstone is another good example of freemium done correctly. I played that game for weeks without spending a dime.

OT: Once again, Matt and Trey prove their genius. I haven't actually seen the episode yet, but just from that clip and the description, I can tell that they get what a cancer freemium gaming can, and has, become.
 

Darth_Payn

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Aug 5, 2009
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Yeah, this episode was totally spot-on and hilarious. My favorite bit is when Stan accidentally summons the Devil, who explains the science of addiction, then figures out its the Canadian devil behind it.
"Oh, that son of a *****!"
 

Nurb

Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
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Nailed it, and explains why I'm not bothering with F2P games or mobile gaming period.

I don't want a grind to "encourage" me to pay, I'd rather pay for a good game with a full experience rather than have time and resources of the devs trying to find ways to annoy you into paying.