Kim Kardashian mobile game gets players to spend real money on fake virtual goods

Annual revenue for explosively popular game may reach $200 million

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MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Photo shoots, parties and Calabasas are some of the things celebrity news  followers used to judge on reality shows. Now thanks to a virtual game called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, they can view the world through the eyes of a celebrity.

The free game is part of a new trend in mobile device gaming that allows players to use real currency to buy virtual goods.  It is a business model that the growing mobile gaming industry continues to promote among teens.

The tribute to the Kardashian socialites is reaching top download placement on both Google Play and Apple's App Stores. And it lifted shares of creator Glue Mobile Inc. up 42 percent this month.

To play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,  users must rise their way up the social ladder. Users start as pathetic "E-listers" and after passing several levels, they can become a powerful "A-listers."

An "A-lister" flies to Miami to party at "LIF," a name reminiscent of Miami Beach's nightclub LIV at the Fontainebleau. They can also get into a cat fight with a Paris Hilton look-alike, and date other celebrities to get ahead. Much like the reality TV star, users can earn the "major money" through photo shoots and schmoozing. 

Users also have a challenge. The virtual character has a limited amount of energy. This is where the makers of the game make money. Users can use real dollars to buy energy for their virtual characters. Users can also buy virtual outfits, hair, and dates for their characters.

For every $100 U.S. dollars, players can get $175,000 of the game's virtual dollars. Players are shopping. Annual revenue from the game may reach $200 million, experts told Bloomberg in July.

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is a game that can be addictive. Players log on multiple times a day on their mobile devices to play. There is a level of anxiety about deciding what the next step will be for the virtual character's strategy to get to the top.

And from the mouth of a Kardashian gamer: Will you regret getting the game? Yes. Will you stop playing? Never.

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