How Chinese Game Developers Get People Hooked on Game Addiction

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A young player practices outside a shopping mall, where a battle match of mobile game Honor of Kings is held in Tianjin, China on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
A young player practices outside a shopping mall, where a battle match of mobile game Honor of Kings is held in Tianjin, China on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Online games are known as “electronic drugs” in China. Many Chinese, including young children, have become addicted to gaming, spending huge sums of money on buying games, and in extreme cases, become seriously injured as a result of game-binging for long periods of time.

Chinese media Changsha Television (CTV) reported on April 24 that during the 2017 Chinese New Year holiday, 12-year-old Xiaohua (nickname) used his mother’s mobile phone to play mobile games. In just eight days, Xiaohua spent more than 8,000 yuan ($1,264)—via the bank account connected to his mother’s phone—more than four times an average middle school teacher’s monthly salary in China.

Another case in Changsha City: Ms. Song’s 11 year-old daughter, Xiaoyu, spent nearly 8,000 yuan in a few days playing “Honor of Kings,” a multiplayer online battle game, published by Chinese internet giant Tencent. The game has over 80 million daily active players and 200 million monthly active players as of July 2017, according to Technode. One out of seven Chinese people play it. And among the population born after 2000, more than 20 percent play the game.

A match of the mobile game named Honor of Kings is held in a shopping mall in Tianjin, China on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A match of the mobile game named Honor of Kings is held in a shopping mall in Tianjin, China on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Video games are highly profitable for Chinese game developers. According to Tencent’s most recent financial report released in March 2018, its revenue inthe fourth quarter of 2017 grew by 51 percent compared to the same period last year, more than a third of which is attributed to revenue from online and mobile games.

Online and mobile game revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017 was 24.37 billion yuan ($3.85 billion), 36.7 percent of the total fourth quarter revenue of66.39 billion yuan ($10.16 billion).

To get to higher levels in these popular online games, players have to purchase items, such as swords, spears, shields, and other weapons. But Chinese gaming companies use deceitful methods to entice players into spending more and more money to purchase more and more expensive items.

To learn how specifically these companies hook players into spending money on the games, a reporter at CTV went undercover to apply for a job as an online game “promoter” at a network technology company in Hunan Province.

Young players practice outside the shopping mall, where a battle match of mobile game Honor of Kings is held in Tianjin, China on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Young players practice outside the shopping mall, where a battle match of mobile game Honor of Kings is held in Tianjin, China on Oct. 1, 2017. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A game promoter’s job is to disguise oneself as a player and hook other players into playing the game more: by adding them as friends on social media and eventually getting their contact information. The promoter can then easily prompt the player into playing the game with them.

The company’s promotion team leader, identified only by the surname Xie, told the reporter that guiding online users to play the game is the first step. The ultimate goal is to lure the players into spending money within the game, after which the promoter can get a cut of what is earned from the player.

These online games typically have many kinds of ranks and levels. Promoters will create multiple game “accounts” to constantly play with a single player. The goal is to create “virtual happiness” and a sense of “virtual honor” for players who advance to higher levels, according to the CTV report. Motivated to keep reaching higher levels, these players will continue to buy more “powerful” items in the game, Xie told the undercover reporter.

Xie said the game will constantly update with rare and expensive items for players to purchase. Meanwhile, game promoters can very easily obtain those rare items through the companies’ internal accounts, without spending any money. Under the persuasion of these promoters, players will spend more and more money to beat the promoters using internal accounts.

From The Epoch Times

Written by Sunny Chao

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