How much have you spent on your favorite free-to-play game (using the term “free” loosely here)? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands of dollars?
Three and a half million dollars?
So, bear with us on this story, since the details are salacious and we’ve got a Google-translated news article and an angry Reddit post to go by — not to mention general cash shop shenanigans. Here are the details we’re pretty sure are solid facts:
- NCSoft’s hugely successful Lineage M mobile game had an update in January.
- One user spent a lot of money in the cash shop related to that content. According to the Biz Korea article, he spent 160 million Korean won, or about $142,000 USD, over four days.
- NCSoft later rolled back the update, compensating players for their purchases in “Diamonds.” However, the amount of Diamonds returned to the player (called “Mr. A” in the article) was only equivalent to about half of the amount of money he spent.
- After not getting the answer he wanted from customer service, Mr. A went to the NCSoft office in person at the end of February. He spent two days waiting to meet the customer service manager and, when he couldn’t get an appointment, used his car to block the NCSoft parking lot, for which he was arrested.
- A YouTuber by the name of Mad Hyung picked up on the controversy and covered it in a video, prompting other players to say they also received insufficient compensation.
- NCSoft soon handed out additional compensation, including enough to cover Mr. A’s initial purchases. The company claims that Mad Hyung’s video was not responsible for the change in policy.
The story has additional information about the exact nature of the compensation and how its items didn’t stack up, value-wise, with Mr. A’s initial outlay. These include the Terms of Service for Lineage M, which entitle NCSoft to “provide paid services with similar values” if a refund is required. The Reddit post also claims that NCSoft is suing Mr. A, though this doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the article.
But the most eye-popping detail about the whole affair is Mr. A’s claim that he has spent over four billion won on the game — about $3.54 million USD — over the past two years. Thanks to financial reports, we actually know how much NCSoft’s entire mobile division has brought in over the last eight quarters/two years, and Mr. A’s spending accounts for about 1/500 of the revenue of the entire segment. Overall, the spending of this one person accounts for about 1/900 of the company’s total income over the past two years.
That might seem like a small fraction at first glance, but when you realize that NCSoft probably has millions of active players, one person accounting for about 0.1% of the company’s total monetary intake is a little insane. For those of you solidly in the “back in my day, an MMO sub cost $15/month and that was all” camp, $3.5 million would buy you nearly 20,000 years’ worth of subscription time at that price. Suddenly, “lifetime” subs for a few hundred dollars seem like a bargain.