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Ethics In App purchases, game developers, kanye west

Why Kanye was pissed at Game Developers, and the ethics of in-app purchases


Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

Ethics In App purchases, game developers, kanye west

I was doing my bi-monthly scan through Kanye West’s Twitter feed and I came across this gem, condemning in-app purchases from game developers.

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Followed by these lovely bits and pieces:

Now of course with my cynical mindset, I imagined an in-attentive version of Kanye doing his thing, helping Kim with her selfies and working on his next speech just hoping for little North to chill out and stop handing him the iPad. On further consideration I remember another gentleman I met on the bus a couple years ago, talking pretty adamantly against in-app purchases as well. So it’s not just the rich and the famous trying to shirk responsibility, it’s a potentially very real ethical issue for the game industry to confront.

When a game is so directly targeted at children, how do we position purchases during gameplay? Is the game significantly less fun if you don’t make these 5 dollar purchases of coins on a regular basis?

I was once addicted to a lovely game called Clash of the Clan’s and had some one in my ‘clan’ who had built up a base that was quite enviable. I was very curious about how the game creators were doing financially and such and my curiosity about the game drew me to ask the person about their age, how they got the base that way, and where they got the money to do that when they told me they had made in-app purchases. The kid was 12, and his grandparent had gotten him a $50 iTunes gift card for Christmas or a Birthday.

Is it an ethical quandary then? When it’s a kid who’s caretakers have made a specific decision to support his digital habits with money, perhaps not. When the game creators are very intentionally baiting in a kid with an ever more engaging game but dangling success in the game out on a stick only crossed by money or a 6 hour a day habit?

Hell yeah, that’s an ethical issue.

And as a digital creator myself, I have had my fair share of ethical quandaries. I have to do my best to navigate them with honor, but still make enough money to eat and take care of my financial responsibilities. I haven’t had to confront this dilemma in an real and serious way yet, but if I do I hope to handle it correctly according to my moral compass. Yes, there are shades of grey. But I want to generally be involved in causes I care about, and products and services with sincere value.

What about yourself? If you’re involved in digital marketing or production or just in general, where do ethics start to matter and come into play in the market? Do you think the game developers are in the wrong here?

I sincerely want to know what you think. Share in the comments below.

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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

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1 Comment on "Why Kanye was pissed at Game Developers, and the ethics of in-app purchases"

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Jeff
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You should look up the now-banned Japanese gaming practice of kompu gacha. As you state, this is the practice of dangling success in the game behind dollar signs. Specifically, making game mechanisms based on chance that give smaller and smaller chances the more you complete, meaning you spend more money on the last legs of completing something. Knowing the Japanese have banned this practice for games marketed in Japan should tell you everything you need to know about these ethics. 🙂 This practice has been exported to the US and around the world, however, because we don’t ban non-ethical business… Read more »

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