How this high school sophomore became a micro-transaction mogul
By ryan lotz
When Madden Mobile, the most publicized football application was released in the App store last August, sophomore Simon Kim saw a big opportunity, an opportunity that changed virtual in-store coins into real stacks of cash. Kim tediously studied the infrastructure of the game and developed a masterful plan to exploit its system.
When the game dropped, crowds of people all around the world hopped onto this online server and eagerly pressed the download button, excited to start building their virtual football team. The whole idea of the game is to obtain the best lineup, by making in app purchases to receive elite players with the highest overall rating. In the game, you complete seasons, open special player packs, and complete daily challenges to help achieve this goal. There is no winning in the game: the reward is being able to flex your 98 rated Tom Brady card that you have in your starting lineup. The amount of work and excessive thumb fatigue it takes to get the 98 Brady is the thrill that makes everyone come back each year.
In order to sustain the massive number of individuals playing, EA Sports created four servers. When you make an account, you are automatically placed on one of the four. To have access to all customers, Kim created four accounts, each with a different server. To get coins, you post a player in the auction house for a set price and other players see that listing and buy that player card. When someone contacts Simon and wants to purchase coins, that customer sends what server he’s on, and the specific card’s information. As the seller, Kim logs into Madden Mobile on that specific server and purchases that card in the auction house. The coins are then accessible in the customers account.
Kim discovered a source where he was able to buy coins for around a dollar per million Madden Coins. He wanted this source to remain confidential, referring them as his “Madden Mobile plug”. He usually purchased coins in large amounts, as the more coins you buy, the lower the overall price is.
Kim found himself with an excessive amount of coins dispersed among four servers. Now it was time to advertise. He created an instagram, which now has around 8 thousand followers. This large number of followers used his social platform to purchase coins. Also, Kim reached out to Youtube streamers, and paid them to advertise his business. To target the majority of his customers, he contacted younger Youtubers that had around 10-15 thousand subscribers, as most of the Madden Mobile followers are made up of teens and young adults.
When buying coins you have to be cautious of who you’re dealing with. Unlike Kim, many scamming, coin-selling instagram accounts were created. They claim they’re the real deal and when a buyer sends specific amounts of money to their Paypal account, they’re immediately blocked and the money is now secured in the scammers account. To know that he’s legit, every transaction is posted on his Instagram, to ensure his credibility as a seller. With the cheapest prices and plausible reputation, buyers kept flushing in. With business booming, he created a website so transactions are completed more efficiently and securely.
Though he didn’t want to discuss specifics, Kim said that his gross profit was between $30,000 – $50,000. Kim took a very intelligent route with his money by having his parents create a retirement fund and invest some money in stocks. The rest is still floating in his bank. Whenever he wants something, all it takes is one click of a button, and it’s his.