What would you do with $1 million dollars? Buy a new car? A new house? How about a bunch of pay-to-win boosts in the mobile strategy game Game of War by Machine Zone!
That's just what California resident Kevin Lee Co did with money he embezzled from his employer, Holt California. Mr Lee Co admitted in court that he embezzled around $5 million from the heavy equipment company between the dates of May 2008 to March 2015. The full guilty plea court report goes into detail on the charges and just where the money went. The money shot can be found on page 16 of the PDF:
Approximately $1 million in purchases for the online video game Game of War;
Plastic surgery expenses;
Membership dues at Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin, California;
Season ticket seat licenses for the San Francisco 49ers; and
Season tickets for the Sacramento Kings.
While its well established that mass market mobile games like Clan of Clans and Pokemon Go earn millions of dollars a day, this is the first case I've encountered where a single individual has admitted -- in a court of law no less -- to spending seven-figures.
Perhaps the best take away from this story is the fact that games in the "strategy" genre are bottomless pits with no limit to how much can be spent. There is no clear 'win condition' or permanent reward for purchase. Instead, players must continuously build (or purchase) soldiers and buildings to feed the perpetual meet grinder. The best description of this payment model comes courtesy of Cracked: "It's like gambling, but with no possibility of winning."
Fortunately for Mr. Lee Co, he used other people's money to fund his no-win gambling addiction. He now faces up to 20 years in prison for that decision.
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