• At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
  • Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
  • Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
  • Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
  • Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
  • In the fast-changing world of employment law our clients need practical, commercial and cost-effective advice. They get this from our team of employment law professionals.
  • Our team of leading IP advisors deliver cost-effective, strategic and commercial advice to ensure that your IP assets are protected and leveraged to add real value to your business.
  • Our litigation practice advises on all aspects of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on ownership, exploitation and infringement of intellectual property rights and commercial disputes in the technology sector.
  • We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
  • We work alongside companies, many with disruptive technologies, that seek funding, as well as with the venture capital firms, institutional investors and corporate ventures that want to invest in exciting business opportunities.
  • Our regulatory specialists work alongside Kemp Little’s corporate and commercial professionals to help meet their compliance obligations.
  • With a service that is commercial and responsive to our clients’ needs, you will find our tax advice easy to understand, cost-effective and geared towards maximising your tax benefits.
  • At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
  • We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
  • Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
  • We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
  • We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
  • For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
  • Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
  • The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
  • Whether ERP, Linux or Windows; software or infrastructure as a service in the cloud, in a virtualised environment, or as a mobile or service-oriented architecture, we have the experience to resolve legal issues across the spectrum of commercial computer platforms.
  • Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
  • We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
  • Our legal professionals work alongside social media providers and users in relation to the commercial, privacy, data, advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate issues that arise in this dynamic sector.
  • Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
  • Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
  • Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
  • Kemp Little is trusted by some of the world’s leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
  • HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
  • FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they don’t give away to get you started.
News and Events

Game of War: the future of pay to play?

View profile for Andy Moseby
  • Posted
  • Author

Unless you’ve somehow managed to avoid accessing the internet or watching television for six months, you might have noticed that Kate Upton’s cleavage is currently endorsing Machine Zone’s latest smartphone game Game of War: Fire Age. Despite many low-scoring reviews – it currently rates a 1.9 User Score on Metacritic – it has proved to be incredibly profitable. Ranked #2 on the iPhone Top Grossing Games chart, just behind similar money-making behemoth Clash of Clans, Think Gaming estimates it generates over $1 million of revenues each day in the US alone.

A recent article in Business Insider was scathing in its assessment of exactly why Game of War has been so successful: “the entire game is built around digging hooks into players, getting them invested in its infinite loops and convoluted systems, and then charging money for the ability to stay invested.” It’s worth breaking that down a little. An “infinite loop” (or compulsion loop) is a concept which traces its history back to the 1930s and BF Skinner’s research into behavioural conditioning – the process of training specific behaviours in animals. Skinner developed an “operant conditioning chamber” (now generally known as a Skinner Box) in which animals were rewarded for certain behaviours, such as pressing a lever to release food. By altering the ratio of reward to action and the interval between the desired behaviour (lever pressing) and the reward (food) over multiple experiments, Skinner was able to compile a set of rules governing when and how rewards should be given in order to maximise the desired action.

The compulsion loop, as applied to games, is the process of compelling the player to keep playing, creating a habit out of a chain of activities. The reward for not breaking that chain is a pleasure stimulus – a dump of dopamine into the brain which encourages repeated play. If this is done by creating a rich game experience then few eyebrows are raised; it becomes controversial when the purpose of the compulsion loop is to stimulate players to part with real-world currency.

This is nothing new, of course. John Hopson, a researcher at Bungie at the time, wrote an article revealing the workings of behavioural game design on Gamasutra back in 2001, and the same Skinner Box comparisons were aired again a few years ago once it was discovered Zynga employed a behavioural psychologist. However, Game of War does seem to be a particularly egregious example. With its myriad of stats, progress timers and multi-tiered research trees, there is a never-ending to-do list. All in-game tasks like training troops, research or attacking nearby monsters take time – at the start of the game the time periods are short, but soon extend to weeks. Want to speed things up? Then you need to start dropping cash. 

Again, we’ve seen this before, where the “whales” (a game’s most financially invested users) are able to buy an advantage. However, comments from players online seem to suggest that stumping up real cash in Game of War is the only real way to advance. In the same Business Insider article referred to earlier, one player was quoted as saying: “The difference between the big spenders and everyone else is huge. Not just two, three or even ten times more powerful, but a hundred or two hundred times more powerful”. At that level, the compulsion loop is driving payments of very large sums of money. Belgian news site Het Nieuwsblad reported last year that a 15-year old from Antwerp had spent €37,000 on Game of War in-app purchases, using his grandfather’s credit card.

If you’ve sunk that kind of money into building an empire, then you have an investment in seeing it persist.  If you were to say – take a holiday – the last thing you’d want to see on your return to the game (because Game of War is a huge multiplayer environment, raids and attacks can still affect you even when you’re not actively playing) is a pile of rubble where your stronghold used to be. Fortunately, that’s where the peace shield can help. The peace shield essentially protects your city from attacks and scouts; a three-day peace shield (perfect for coverage during that long-weekend break) costs just 2,500 Gold whereas for a 30-day peace shield, you’d be looking to part with 45,000 Gold.        

At this point, you may realise that players are paying not to play the game. As a business model, that’s impressive…