Bailouts for your iPhone

PlayScreen Games has released a sort of newsgame for iPhone, a sendup of the recent financial market bailout we know about all too well. Bailout Bonanza is essentially a clone of the classic Activision game Kaboom! -- the player moves or tilts the iPhone to maneuver a bucket at the bottom of the screen, which catches money bags dropped by a Wall Street banker out of a neoclassical financial building. The game is available for 99 cents on the iTunes App Store.
I have real mixed feelings about a game like this. As a proponent of newsgames, I want to encourage experimentation with editorial games. As a sometimes-iPhone developer, I want to encourage commercial release of Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes hack games  on that platform, not just giveaways. 99 cents isn't much to spend, and spending it on clever editorial is a promising way to advance both games and news.The problem is, this game doesn't really satirize or comment upon the bailout. 

If anything, the Kaboom! gameplay feels backwards... the player is supposed to be collecting money the financial sector is "stealing" from them, but the money is falling to the ground out of the hands of the banker. Nor does catching the money bags offer a sense of satisfaction in having quashed the insidious, self-serving plans of the financial sector.The game also points to the issue of timeliness in editorial games. 

Creating an iPhone game like this one is relatively easy, but it still takes more time than making the equivalent Flash game. I don't know how long PlayScreen has been working on the game, but before they managed to get it through Apple approval current events turned more toward the congressional bailout package and then toward mortgage relief legislation. 

Certainly causes for the current recession are very much on everyone's mind, but the bailout of the financial sector is, in a way, old news. PlayScreen told me that they plan to donate 5% of the sales of the game to The United Way in order that "users who are upset at the way the Bailout has been abused can do something for people who really need a helping hand during this economic crises." A nice gesture, although 5% of the 70 cent commission on a 99 cent iTunes purchase is 3.5 cents, so don't let your heart start warming too much.Bailout Bonanza is up against other bailout-themed games in the App Store. 

Bailout World is a weird, broken strategy game that I can't figure out how to play. Bailout Bandits is another Kaboom! clone, in which the player tries to capture executives on golden parachutes. Voodoo Taxman lets you "stick it to the taxman." Auto Bailout is Pong, with the paddles named after players in the automotive labor world. And Bailout! is a stock market simulation game that adds an option to request a government bailout.

We are donating 25% of sales to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.The idea behind the Kaboom-like play is that he's throwing money away and you're trying to save it.I won't do a "news game" on the iPhone again.  The delay in approval is just too much.Also, the 1.3 update is now out, the tilt should be easier to use.Just remember to avoid the shoes.

The game is a homage to KABOOM and other classic games.Note: We're pledging 25% of sales to The Second Harvest Foodbank of Santa Clara and San Mateo.Also the 1.3 update is out and for a limited time the game is free. 

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