Here's one of the crazier stories you're going to read in a while. Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat reports on Stephen Barnes, a Houston resident who owns an appliance store, and has spent more than $2 million in Modern War [Free] by Gree, leading a long-running clan in the game. But that's not the crazy part: when he grew unhappy with the game, he helped organize a boycott where 144 different teams stopped spending any money on the game, demanding Gree make changes. What spurred the boycott? Takahashi writes:

Barnes came to my attention because the top clans in *Modern War* staged a boycott with perhaps 6,000 participants, including 22 of the top 25 player teams in the game. They sent a letter that demanded Gree address problems with the game and communicate with them about changes. Gree had modified the power and value of virtual items after players had purchased them, and it rescinded an item that teams had spent a lot of money to acquire.

Yikes! What's interesting is that Takahshi reports that other games have gone through boycotts, including top-grossing Game of War [Free]. Apparently it caused top players to stop spending and some to eventually quit the game, but they found that they were able to communicate better with Machine Zone and get improvements to the game that way.

The story is worth reading as it goes into the community of these games and why people would do it. But it brings up an interesting aspect that because top-money players (and "social whales" that drive others to play and spend) are necessary for these games to do well, they wield a surprising amount of power. And if the developers don't treat them well enough, they have tremendous power to sink a game if they so choose. Compare this to the existing model of paid games, where essentially any one player has the same power as any other. That means that any vocal complaints could be brushed off as an angry minority. But if someone who's spending thousands, even millions, on your game is mad, well...might be time to listen.

[VentureBeat]

  • ineptidude

    Just like the US government. Capitalism!

  • abazigal

    Disappointed by the article.

    We should be boycotting games to move them towards the paid model, not to continue giving us more of the same.

    But still, 2 million dollars?!? Who knew owning an appliance store could be that profitable?

    • Poo

      If they're ther better store in the area they get all new construction and remodel jobs from serious contractors and that alone can make you huge money.

    • Maude St. Nubbins

      Good luck with that. A dwindling enclave of hardcore mobile gamers has exactly zero influence on F2P business models.

      • Qaioud

        I think this gentleman gave me a toaster.

        Five years on, it's cost me $17k in upgrades and parts, but my toast is level frigging 17, man.

        And totally equipped with a Gem Encrusted Toaster Helmet of Doom.

      • boydstr

        LOL πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ˜„

      • Arcite

        But have you acquired the butter of destiny?

      • boydstr

        The fact that this story pops up is a sign of the opposite.

  • hyperthyme

    ...whales? I speak whale.

    • ludka33

      MoooooAaaaahhhhhdoooooooo yoooooouuuuuu naaaaaoooooowwwwww?

      • ManWithAnOpinion

        That's not whale, that's moron. You are very fluent at it.

    • InTheAir

      Can you talk to Dory for me?

  • sabre31

    For 2 million he could have hired a developer and made his own game.

    • nini

      And lost $2 million, probably more. Much less fun.

      • Septim

        At least he'd have something to his name. Better than digital items that will be lost with a server shutdown or removal. There are much better ways to spend 2 mil.

      • http://www.jpaterson.net CrazyCanuck

        "There are much better ways to spend 2 mil."

        Yes, but money is subjective. What is worth $2 million to you may not be the same to everyone. That amount was obviously worth it to him, and was a good way to spend it.

      • boydstr

        Bad perspective.

      • makoamagana

        Anyone spending 2 million on a mobile game should rethink their life. Yes money is subjective, but seriously come on let's not kid ourselves. 2 million on a game really?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        It's fascinating how judgmental people get about how others spend their money.

      • BermudaQuads

        TWO MILLION DOLLARS. MILLION. Yep, I feel comfortable judging that.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        To this dude $2m is probably the same as $200 to you. *shrug*

        If you're rich and want to spend money, more power to you. This dude is likely responsible for more than a few people having jobs at Epic War, in which case, keep on spendin'.

      • diablo135

        How can he even spend that much? He could have bought everything a hundred times over

  • Syrik_Zero

    There was a lot less whale talk in the article than I was led to believe. I want my money back!

  • Suck it barnes

    Barnes is full of it. He works for gree.... gets free gold to get others to spend. He's also tied to micky mcirl. A known game hacker. Mic hacked gree and showed them how.

    • DuckingGold

      Prove it or stfu.

      • Suck it barnes

        Where's the proof this guy spent 2million on this game. From playing 4 years and knowing who he is. Funny he's not even a top 5 player in stats.

  • Stetch

    I started boycotting all the f2p games. Or rather ... all the games where I can only play for a while before I have to pay in order to continue.

  • boydstr

    Welcome to big money in game biz it fuβ€’β€’ up a lot of pleasure that games can bring I hope this is something that eventually will blow over there so many negative effects I hope that a lot of gamers start realizing that free games are not for free you see minimalistic gameplay "games" that are for "free" and the developer use commercials to make some money it becomes time that we gonna pay for games again and let the market do it's work so that quality games sell themselves and the devs can get paid a normal price for there work my latest buy is a game that I paid a long time ago for €60,- for the Xbox "Jade Empire" now you can pick this game up with better graphics for less than €10,- on iOS so my point what I want to make is that quality games are real reasonable priced.

    • eatthis

      That is one really long sentence.

  • Grits n Gravy

    Not much different in the pay once model. If the shareholders/publisher aren't happy, the developers bend over for them rather than the people who bought the product.

    At the end of the day, money talks. Does so in just about every industry

  • Feathers

    Just another reason why you should avoid this "game" and every "game" like it. The developers are only interested in the opinions of a few high-spending whales, and they get everything they want, regardless of how it impacts everyone else.

    Leave it to the whales only, don't be content for them.

  • MintCity

    That's absolutely ridiculous that he spent $2 million on that game. It's barely even a game. I do not like free-to-play games. The only free-to-play I give a shot are ones that allow you to buy monthly packages (where you login once a day for premium currency). It has good value and helps you pace yourself with the game. I know this supports the idea of free-to-play games but I don't mind these types. Premium games will always be the best option though. Like everyone has said before me, Money rules everything and free-to-play games would not exist if people were not spending tons of money on them. There will always be whales.

  • marksapolloa

    So.... the few run the entire game and it's platform for the many just because they spend a disgusting amount of money on if? How sad the world of mobile gaming has become.

  • diablo135

    How can he even spend that much? He could have bought everything a hundred times over. I can't imagine there is much left to do