(The picture above was taken inside of Game of War)
A Californian man has just pleaded guilty to stealing $4.8 million from his employer. In addition to purchasing plastic surgery, furniture, luxury cars and season tickets to the San Francisco 49ers and the Sacramento Kings, he also spent $1 million on Game of War – one of the world’s most popular and highest-grossing mobile games.
Kevin Lee Co had had his hand in the till since 2008 and spent seven years using his company’s credit cards to siphon off cash for his own use. As the person with responsibility for managing the accounts at Holt, a California-based company that dealt in Caterpillar machinery, he was able to cover his tracks for some time. After he left, the scale of the theft became apparent.
Co has been told he must pay $4.5 million in restitution and faces decades in jail. What’s interesting about the story is not that, had he used gamecredits, he might have been able to hide his fraud more effectively. (Gamers often value anonymity and financial privacy, but it’s probably only going to get you so far if you have a habit of buying crypto on the company credit card.) It’s the sheer scale of the gaming economy at work here and the set of statistics of which Co’s crime was just a tiny part.
Players of Game of War average in-game purchases of $550 annually, much of which can be attributed to the $52 crates of gold offered in the game. That’s right at the top end of the market, but the industry averages are still impressive: those who use free-to-play mobile games still spend an average of $87 on in-app purchases. Those who use traditional desktops or gaming consoles – the ones we might naturally think of as hardcore gamers – spend an average of only $5 more than that at $92. Mobile is big, and it’s getting bigger. In fact, it won’t be long before it overtakes consoles. It’s just too convenient to pull out a mobile and play in those spare minutes on your commute, at your desk, while you’re waiting around for someone.
Analysis by Slice Intelligence shows that, just like in crypto, there are a handful of mobile gaming whales. 10% of players account for 90% of sales. But with mobile, that trend is more pronounced than with traditional gaming. 1 percent of players – the so-called white whales – are responsible for a massive 58% of revenues from in-app purchases.
If that doesn’t show the potential of a new payment solution for mobile and traditional gaming, then nothing will. Game of War has 3 million users, estimated revenues of over $1.6 million per day, and over 27,000 daily downloads.
And its adverts feature Kate Upton. Enough said.