If you, like me, responded to the release of Smurfs' Village by saying, "Really? A freemium game from Capcom? Based on the Smurfs franchise?" then you probably want to rethink how the App Store works, because apparently it's a hit -- Smurfs' Village has topped even Angry Birds recently for the top grossing app on the App Store. The game is free-to-play, though players can buy "smurfberries" via in-app purchase that work like mojo in We Rule to speed up growth of players' crops or buildings. And those smurfberries must be selling like hotcakes, because the game is trouncing Angry Birds' millions and millions of 99-cent downloads.
It'll be really interesting to see what effect this has on the market as a whole. Sega just released a freemium MMO in the form of a game called Kingdom Conquest, and EA is scheduled to do the same very soon. Capcom has been fumbling around for a big hit on the iPhone with all of their various properties, and while the Street Fighter IV game has been doing well, it hasn't seen nearly the intake that this Smurfs game has.
Which probably means we can see some more freemium games coming from Capcom and other big companies in the future. You have to wonder who's spending all this money on these things -- are there legitimate game buyers out there shelling out for smurfberries instead of Starbucks, or is this all kids whose parents will be extremely surprised when the iTunes bill comes in next month?