Monday, November 02, 2009

PSA: "Mafia Wars" and "Farmville" Are Probably Going To Scam You

This Goes Out To All My Friends Who Routinely Invite Me To "Zombie Gangster Vampire Bite Them" or Sign Up For Some Other Mind-Numbing App On Facebook: Your credulousness is going to lose you money and is, in fact, a large part of Facebook's lazy, dishonest revenue stream. Just listen to Gawker's Ryan Tate:
[S]ocial network games like Mafia Wars and Farmville disguise old-school scams, Mike Arrington has been demonstrating over at TechCrunch this weekend. High-revenue don of social networking games Zynga, which makes the aforementioned Mafia Wars and Farmville, gets one-third of its revenue from various shady "commercial offers" and lead-generation systems, Arrington reports. Here's how HotOrNot founder James Hong described the social networking cash scene in a TechCrunch comment:

The offers that monetize the best are the ones that scam/trick users.... i'm pretty sure most of the money ended up getting our users hooked into auto-recurring SMS subscriptions for horoscopes and stuff.

Examples, via TechCrunch:

  • "Users are offered in-game currency in exchange for filling out an IQ survey... They are told their results will be text messaged to them... and are texted a pin code to enter on the quiz. Once they've done that, they've just subscribed to a $9.99/month subscription."
  • "Users are offered in game currency if they sign up to receive a free learning CD... The user is told they pay nothing except a $10 shipping charge. But the fine print, on a different page from checkout, tells them they are really getting a whole set of CDs and will be billed $189.95 unless they return them."
[Via Valleywag]

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