Sunday, October 8, 2017

Beating A "Scam"

Would you believe that out there, there are people who don't use spreadsheets recreationally?
 - Matt Parker, StandUpForMaths [YouTube]

There's a text-based "game" I play on my phone. I say "game" because there's no plot, no story, no action or characters or anything that you might otherwise require for something to actually be a game. But it's something I do for entertainment, and that's enough for me.

The "game" has been called a scam by some of it's critics. I can see where they might get that idea, but the "game" seems pretty straightforward and legitamite. As far as I can tell, there's no hidden gimmicks.

What happens is you use the in-"game" money (called diamonds) to buy robots who produce energy, that can be sold for more diamonds. It's pretty cyclical. As you can imagine, better robots cost more diamonds, but produce energy more efficiently.

The scam accusation comes in here: you don't start with any diamonds. The "game" is designed to run on an investment system: you buy diamonds with real-world money. Except, there's another thing they don't advertise: every 24 hours, you can log on and get a "bonus," which is a random amount of diamonds between 10 and 100.

When I started playing, the cheapest robot cost 1000 diamonds. (They have since released a 100-diamond model.)

It took me two weeks to buy my first robot without paying a penny.

There's another end (necessary for the allusion I used earlier) of the "game," the return on the investment.

Thirty percent of your profits get put into a fund that you can withdraw from. So even if you wanted, you can't get one hundred percent of the profits from your robots. (You can re-invest your fund into the game, and get a bonus for doing so.)

For the impatient, it's a money sink, and the creators are banking on this, literally. The more you want the game to output, the more you have to invest.

But for the patient... well, there's half the fun for me. I even took all the production rates and cost for the robots, put them into a spreadsheet that auto-calculates how much I make and how long it takes me to get any given tier robot.

And given the current conversion rate, I stand to make about $1.72 (at the time of this writing, which considering I'm saving up to buy the next tier robot right now, is bound to go up). I say conversion rate, because it doesn't pay out in US dollar. It pays out in Bitcoin. One diamond converts to 0.000001 btc (if I do the math right).

(Yes, I totally added a page to my investment manager spreadsheet (sorry, no link to that one), that pulls in my present "game" profit (from the spreadsheet above), looks up the current value of Bitcoin in US$, and runs the math. Though, I haven't actually redeemed any of the fund yet. I just keep plugging it back in and reinvesting.)

The lesson here is simple: if you're smart, you can profit from a scam. And if it's merely something that looks like a scam, you can do it without doing anything illegal.

In the meantime, who wants to come play?