The cautionary tale of a Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius whale

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whale

Loot boxes and microtransactions are still major talking points, and for very good reason. While some games have managed to implement them in ways that aren’t shady, there are many more that are predatory, cleverly using psychology to prey on addictive personalities. It’s the ol’ carrot-and-stick, dialled up to 11.

Just last month, we told you of the teenager who spent thousands of dollars on games with lootboxes in them. He appealed to companies that use them to reconsider.

“My problem stems from a deeper issue, my addiction to gambling. This addiction is a personal failing of mine and the reason I can’t in good conscience buy games that offer any loot crate, at all.

“So please again take a moment to reflect. There are no laws in place to protect the youth of our nation and others like it. I was one of the many who was hurt because of that. Help me prevent it from happening to the next generation, give them the chance I never had.”

Now there’s another, similar story on reddit. It’s a sad, cautionary tale of how games with mictrotransactions hunt whales (being the people who spend a lot of money on a single game’s microtransactions.). This time, the game in question is the mobile Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. It’s a (pretty good!) free-to-play turn-based RPG that blends together elements of final Fantasy with elements from Brave Frontier.

Because it’s free to play, it allows those who want to skip the grind to pay for the chance to unlock rare heroes and items. And one guy spent $16 000 doing that. In a long, but seriously worth reasdin post on Reddit,  nothing024 explains how he became addicted to the game’s gambling systems, and spent $16 000 on the game over the course of a year. It’s quite possibly ruined his marriage, his relationship with his children and of course, his bank balance.

A lapsed console gamer and a Final Fantasy fan for decades, he thought this mobile game could help him relive the magic of his childhood.

Along came married life, kids, jobs, responsibilities, and I could no longer spend time on a console. I didn’t have time to sit and play and grid out levels and complete the extra quests like defecting Ruby Weapon. Then FFBE was released. A short format game that I could play for 5 or 10 minutes and put it away. It didn’t require a console or a TV, just a few minutes to play a couple of dungeon runs or a quick exploration, then I could put it away for later. It was perfect.”

But it quickly turned into a money pit, where justifications for spending overrode sensibility.

“It was only $200. I can spare that. I haven’t bought a video game in 6 years. I deserve it, I earned it.”

Exvius

But it was later on where the spending became dangerous, the addiction hit, and the justifications for that spending became worse.

“While on vacation, the Veritas Banner was announced. The most anticipated unit since Orlandeau. I had an Orlandeau from tickets, it would be awesome to get a chaining partner for Orlandeau. Veritas of the Dark is the coolest, with the black armor, Dark Damage heals him, and Dark Retribution attack. Something in me snapped, and I was back to I had to have him. It was another double Rainbow banner, maybe I would be lucky this time.

$1000, no Veritas of the Dark. I had 4 Veritas of the Flame. I was angry. How could I have spent so much and not gotten the unit I wanted! Why would Final Fantasy, Gumi, Square Enix, not give it to me? How could I spend so much and not get what I want! Another $1000. I got 2 more Veritas of the Flame, another Orlandeau, a second Freviya, Olive, Emperor, but no Dark Veritas! How! Why! Now I am stubborn. I am not putting this much money out there to not get what I want. $99…no Dark Veritas, $99…no Dark Veritas, $99…a second Emperor, I almost threw my phone against the wall. $99….Finally, Veritas of the Dark. $2500, 9 Veritas of the Flame, half a dozen other 5* base, and I finally got the Veritas of the Dark.

Wait….WTF did I just do?!?!

Did I just really spend $2500 to get a little animated piece of code? What is my wife going to think? What will my kids say? I tell them I don’t have much money to spare, I dutifully split my paycheck 3 ways, household expenses, savings and my spending money. I can do what I want with my spending money. I just won’t get anything for myself for a year or so, pay this back to my card a couple hundred at a time.

Fuck it. I have what I want. I put in another $1000 just to keep me going with energy refils and I can play whenever and however I want.”

As you can imagine, it hasn’t ended well.

“I am currently $15,800 in debt. My wife no longer trusts me. My kids, who ask me why I am playing Final Fantasy all the time, will never understand how I selfishly spent money I should have been using for their activities. Their birthdays, their festivals, their clothes, their school events, their weekends, their movies.

I have never spent more than $1000 on my wife at one time. I spent $16,000 on digital garbage in about a year. If she decides that she will not divorce me, I owe her more that I could ever repay.”

Look, it’s easy to blame people for lapses in judgment, but games of this sort specifically prey on the people most likely to succumb to their systems. And even if this is all a fabrication, it’s poignant cautionary tale.

 

Last Updated: December 14, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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