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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Couple spent $1,000 in bid to get 'special' reward

IT STARTED with $50, followed by $200 and then a further $200
The Straits Times - February 25, 2013
By: Derrick Ho
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Couple spent $1,000 in bid to get 'special' reward

IT STARTED with $50, followed by $200 and then a further $200.

Within a month, game developer Chee Foo Siong and his wife had spent more than $1,000 in attempts to get "super rare" in-game rewards and special powers to advance to higher levels in a social mobile game that is especially popular in Japan.

"Gacha" is a gambling mechanism built into many free-to-play games.

As the game progresses, players encounter enemies that may seem impossible to defeat without a special power that can be attained only by gacha.

But even if one is willing to spend, there is no guarantee that one can acquire that power.

"It was very enjoyable after throwing in $50... It makes you feel very powerful," said Mr Chee, 35, who started playing the game as research for work.

Some games even have real-time messages which flash when another player attains a certain rare reward through gacha.

Players are then prompted and led to a "super-enticing" and well-designed page to buy more gacha credits for themselves, Mr Chee explained.

He realised he was addicted after he spent $200 one evening last year in hopes of getting a rare card. "Then, I stopped totally," said Mr Chee, who added that he went on to delete all the games.

He made sure that when it came to his own game, Hotel Story, which was launched earlier this month, it would have nothing to do with gacha. Players need pay only $2 to $5 for sure-fire upgrades or to speed up the game.

The revenue from advertisements in his game is "decent enough" to fund his three meals, he said, adding: "I don't want gacha in all of my games."

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