It turns out that those Game of War ads do work, even on those who are sitting on several million dollars that they have embezzled from their employer. Kevin Lee Co, who is due to be sentenced for wire fraud and money laundering in May next year, purportedly spent more than $1 million on Game of War after stealing it from his employer.
Co, 45, from Sacramento, California, pleaded guilty to embezzling as much as $4.8 million from his employer, Holt, a Caterpillar machinery dealer, between May 2008 and March 2015. He spent large sums of it on season tickets for sports teams, luxury cars, plastic surgery, and home furniture. However, one of his most lavish spending sprees involved the “free” mobile game, Game of War.
The mobile strategy title works like many others in providing free, somewhat limited access to the game, with micro-transactions improving the experience and speeding up progression. The BBC claims that the average spend on the game by players is around $550. Co’s total far exceeded that.
With more than $1 million spent on crates of in-game gold, it’s safe to say that Co was one of the ‘whales’ who are thought to make up around 10 percent of most mobile games’ player bases. Despite being small in number, they account for as much as 90 percent of all purchases. Indeed, he was likely part of what Slice calls the “white whales,” or top one percent of mobile spenders, who account for as much as 58 percent of all spending in-game.
The difference in this case of course was that Co wasn’t spending his own money, but his employer’s. He was eventually caught in connection with a joint investigation by the IRS and FBI, though he spent many years abusing his position as head of accounting at Holt to support his lavish lifestyle.
Although the government-appointed attorney for Co has called for leniency as part of his plea deal, the two charges Co faces could land him in jail for a maximum of 40 years.