Last week the long-awaited Christmas update to Kim Kardashian Hollywood was finally released -- at long last bringing Khloe and Kourtney into the action -- so maybe it wasn't the best timing for Lindsay Lohan to jump into the mobile gaming space with her own new app.
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With the arrival of Lindsay's The Price of Fame there are now two celebrity-branded mobile games about building your fanbase and becoming as famous as possible. Because the games sound so similar, at least on the surface, everyone is wondering if Lindsay is trying to knock Kim down as the queen of mobile games.
But is she? And -- more important -- is that even possible?
Nope and noooooope.
The Price of Fame is no Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, and here are six reasons why it won't be anywhere near as successful.
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1. It's already been abandoned by its creators
Since it came out, Lindsay has mentioned the game on her Twitter (where she has almost 9 million followers) exactly once, and not at all on her Instagram (2.4 million fans). Both Kim and the developer of KKH, Glu Mobile, promote their game every few days on Twitter (Kim has 26 million followers), and Kim's Instagram profile (23 million) has been a picture of her in-game avatar ever since the game first arrived last June.
TPOF was developed by a group called Space Inch, which includes OK Go's Andy Ross, but neither the official Space Inch Twitter nor Ross's personal account has even bothered to mention the game yet. Lindsay and her team seem reluctant to squander their social media juice on this endeavor.
Can we blame them? Let's actually play the game and find out!
2. The gameplay, or lack thereof
The primary gameplay mechanic in KKH involves tapping around the screen to pick up lightning bolts or piles of cash. It gets a little boring, but the repetition is broken up by a cast of weird characters and a variety of missions (parties, fashion shoots, TV commercials).
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TPOF on the other hand is the very definition of a cookie clicker, rewarding you for performing a single motion over and over again. In this case you're swiping across the screen in order to earn fans. The faster you swipe, the more fans you earn. There are a handful of upgrades and ways you can pay money to earn fans faster, but that's essentially the whole game.
Beyond the shallowness of the gameplay mechanic, it's also weirdly abstract. With each swipe you throw a person into the air, whereby they somehow become your fan. It's unclear what the mechanic has to do with the goal, but who cares!
3. There's no "U" in customization
At the onset of KKH you are dropped right into the character customization mode and given a variety of hairstyles, shoes, outfits, and accessories to choose from. Immediately you see how fun it can be to style different outfits, and you quickly realize that you are DEFINITELY going to be spending actual money on this game in order to unlock the perfect pair of shoes, which in turn will help you earn more fame and fans.
In TPOF character customization has no impact on the game, to the point where they don't even let you access that screen until you've swiped across the screen 400 times ("earned 400 fans"). How could you possibly become famous before picking out the perfect shoes to match your dress? The people who developed this game either have no understanding of how personal brands work or a flagrant disregard for them.
But it gets worse: once you've unlocked character customization in TPOF, the outfits are hideous and unfashionable, and even with clothes and hair your avatar is so ugly and crude that you'll never want to look at it again.
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4. It's buggy
There was an issue opening weekend of KKH where the servers couldn't keep up with player demand and the game was inaccessible. Kim famously apologized by giving away piles of K-Stars, the highly-coveted in-game currency. TPOF seems oddly buggy for such a simple game -- there were many times when tapping and swiping on things made nothing whatsoever happening. But you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for Lindsay to apologize with free ankle bracelets. (Ankle bracelets are one of the in-game purchases you can use to win fans at a faster rate.) Speaking of which:
5. It's too mean-spirited & cynical
Okay definitely, neither game is super based on reality. But in KKH, fame requires hard work, dedication, and difficult choices. It's a game created by a celebrity who enjoys fame and appreciates not only what it has done for her, but the way it inspires her fans as well. Look, this could be you too, Kim seems to be saying. A little luck and the right outfit and you too could be on your way to the A-list.
In TPOF, fame is just an abstraction, something that happens in the background between coconut waters. No one deserves it, and it's not a thing to be enjoyed. The tools at your disposal in your quest for fame -- ankle bracelets, elevator fights, selfie leaks -- all focus on worst aspects of celebrity culture. Fame is a disease, and its symptoms are an endless horde of fans -- randos to be swiped out of your path -- that keep coming in endless waves, no matter how you behave.
6. It's not even remotely as fun
KKH is not for everyone, but the people who like it, REALLY like it. (I have played it almost once a day since it came out, and on the days when I don't play it I miss it desperately.) The game envelops you in a weird world with snappy dialogue and different locales and perpetually new clothing options, so that's there's always something just out of reach, something you want to work a little harder to win.
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In KKH, earning fans means that you unlock new places to travel to, new clothes, new relationships, and new opportunities to give back, in the form of charity work.
In TPOF, earning fans just gets you more fans. There's no story, no drama, nothing at stake. There's no pleasure or intrigue around the goal of accumulating new fans. It's the game of a celebrity who does not enjoy or appreciate her fame, and who has no sense of connection to her fans whatsoever.
Is Lindsay Lohan's The Price Of Fame a good game? No. It's a joke, an eye-rolly take on the random and nonsensical notion of fame. But that doesn't make it fun. Lindsay absolutely deserves a second (or third?) act, but a game this dark and mean-spirited isn't it.