Column: Will Paris Hilton's mobile game start a celebrity bandwagon?
There was a time when being a celebrity was about having the fast cars, the yachts, the luxury handbags… Then it was all about having the right small-yappy-dog to put in said handbags. And now? It’s about having your own mobile game. At least, that’s the conclusion to be drawn from the recently-released Paris Hilton’s Diamond Quest, made by French mobile game publisher Gameloft.
A colourful puzzler that’s closely inspired by classic casual game Bejeweled, it’s the classiest celebrity-based mobile game yet (admittedly against competition including games featuring topless shots of Jordan and Pamela Anderson). And if it sells well, it surely won’t be the last.
While branded games have been a dominant feature in the mobile gaming world, they’ve usually been based on films, console games and sporting competitions rather than individual celebrities. Yet that’s not always been a good thing: most movie mobile games have been underwhelming – and often rubbish – while those inspired by console brands have tended to be a let-down to hardcore fans of the original game.
2006 could yet be the year of the celebrity tie-in game though. Gameloft’s effort stands out because a.) it’s actually good (read reviews here and here for opinions), b.) the subject matter – spangly jewels – is well-suited to Paris herself, and c.) will appeal outside the measly 5% of mobile users who currently download games.
That’s fans of Paris – and I don’t mean mole-eyed mothers’ boys who bought her DVD either. Mobile games publishers see celebrities like Paris as a way to appeal to more women, and more ‘non-gamers’ who watch The Simple Life, but haven’t downloaded a mobile game before. It might just work, too, although one barrier is the fact that the strategy relies on these non-gamers going to their mobile operator’s games portal and seeing it there.
So who’ll be next? Cartoon hip-hop band Gorillaz signed up for their own mobile game earlier this year, with a sequel on the way. And, er, Busted had a game a couple of years ago where you could manage the band (sadly not by driving their tour-bus into a slavering pit of hyenas).
But there are plenty of stars out there who’d benefit from a clever mobile game tie-in, from Robbie Williams to Sienna Miller to Prince Harry to… well, whoever you like. And if Paris’ game doesn’t spark a wave of similar efforts from the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie, then I’ll eat my hat. The Gucci one. Take the small dog out of it first though.