In this hilarious segment from The Daily Show, correspondent Aasif Mandvi tackles the exploitive nature of games that are free on the App Store, but offer multitudes of in-app upgrades and virtual goods to players, especially kids.
Specifically, Mandvi talks to Rizwan Virk, of Gameview Studios, who makes the popular Tapfish for iPad. The game, targeted at kids, allows them to feed the fish in the tank to keep them alive. But if the kids run out of food, the fish will eventually die.
In order to prevent this, an in-app purchase of more food is available.
Of course, you don’t have to purchase food, you can just let the fish die or more carefully manage your food, but the concept is lost on kids, who just don’t want to see the animals die, as a developmental expert interviewed by Mandvi tells him.
The whole segment is totally tongue-in-cheek, of course, as these bits always are, but they do raise some real questions about whether these games prey on kids. A family interviewed by Mandvi, and whose father he hilariously puts on the phone with the game company’s CEO, spent thousands of dollars on these in-app purchases.
In one of the funniest lines of the segment, Mandvi asks Virk “Are there any other mental deficiencies of kids that we can…profit from?”