Integrating Social Media into Kim Kardashian: Hollywood — Too Real to Work

In Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (KKH), social media is an integral part of the game. In a game all about climbing the social ladder in pursuit of fame and commodities, it’s not surprising that the developers attempted to create a way to monetize the out-of-game social media of players. The game features it’s own in-game “social media” system; after the player completes modeling gigs or attends red carpet events, little alerts flash in the bottom corner of the page from fans…

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In Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (KKH), social media is an integral part of the game. In a game all about climbing the social ladder in pursuit of fame and commodities, it’s not surprising that the developers attempted to create a way to monetize the out-of-game social media of players.

The game features it’s own in-game “social media” system; after the player completes modeling gigs or attends red carpet events, little alerts flash in the bottom corner of the page from fans and other famous in-game characters about whatever event. It’s a little jolt of validation for each of the jobs completed and also serves as a benchmark for measuring progress — if the player didn’t talk to the “it-people” at the party, network effectively, or wear a cute new outfit,  it will be reflected in the fake Twitter feed.

While other gaming platforms (notably Xbox, Playstation, and Steam) have made it possible to live chat in-game between active players, KKH did not take this approach. Instead, the intra-player social aspect is pushed to players out-of-game social media: the game prompts you every time you open it to connect to your Facebook and Twitter. As you progress through the game, unlock new items and complete jobs, the game will prompt you to share it on your real Twitter or Facebook — even offering KStars and money to sweeten the deal.

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However, when examining how many people on Facebook are “talking about” #kimkardashiangame, it clocks in at about 80k. According to HashtagTracker, #kimkardashianhollywood has about 110k timeline deliveries. According to OpenForum, there were about 2.4 million active users in 2015; this means that of all the users, roughly 4.5% are tweeting and posting to Facebook. Likely, this percentage is even smaller because of the likelihood that people who do tweet or post are more likely to do it multiple times (eg. not every post represents a separate person).

I think the reason why in-game chat is so popular in established platform games is because it adds to the gaming experience and connects players in-game. It makes the experience feel more “translucent.” But since KKH is effectively “off-shoring” a social aspect of the game to “real” life, it failed. It breaks the “magic circle” of the game to tweet it out to followers that you know outside of the game and who are likely not players within the game.