There is an abyss at the heart of life, a cold nothingness that will one day consume us all. And there's no price too high to pay for even a moment's distraction from it, just a second of enraptured forgetting before the plunge back into the icy river that carries us to the trackless, dark sea. Which brings us, of course, to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the freemium game that has captured America's thumbs, and hearts.
Kim Kardashian's mobile game, made by the SoMa company Glu, pulled in $43.4 million in profit in the last three months. Not income—profit. According to Vanity Fair, since the app's June debut, it has been installed almost 23 million times and has been played for an aggregate of 5.7 billion minutes (it helpfully notes that number works out to 144 human lifetimes—but isn't any lifetime too short?). Shockingly, the app is responsible for more revenue than the ten other highest-grossing of Glu's games, combined. (Even Amazing Battle Creatures? Yes, even Amazing Battle Creatures.)
That may fall short of the projected yearly revenue of $200 million that was bandied about at the game's launch, but here are some ways to put it in context. Twitter made $7 million last quarter. Yahoo pulled in $173 million. Apple made $7.7 billion. That means Kim Kardashian is the equivalent of six Twitters. Let's put it this way—no matter what you Stanford grads have cooking up in the accelerator, it's never going to make as much money as Kim Kardashian did. (Shouldn't that information liberate you from coding the next Uber for juice cleanses? Go join the circus instead.) That's the free market at work—nothing you do matters as much as what Kim Kardashian does. Somebody call Ed Lee. Let's give that girl a tax break. Let her live in AT&T Park rent free. A lifetime membership at the Battery. Whatever it takes. Keep those good times coming.
All this is even more incredible when you remember that gameplay is, as the Guardian put it, slightly limited. "The central gameplay mechanic involves tapping circles, then waiting a bit for your character to regain their energy, so you can tap on some more circles. But the appeal of virtually inhabiting Kardashian's life is undeniable. The game, which is free to install but requires micropayments for additional content, mounts a post-modern critique of the society of the spectacle through a mimetic intensification of the rituals of late capitalism—allowing the user to participate virtually in the pursuits, high-fashion photo shoots, VIP parties, and dodging paparrazzi—that are denied to us in the quotidian grind of material existence." In other words, let's go shopping!