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There is one quote that explains everything:

>> Jorge Yao, the game’s undisputed champion, figures he has spent north of $2500 in real money

>> on buying gems, and according to back-of-the-envelope calculations, the cost of fully fitting out your virtual

>> village is on the order of $5000 when you include walls. It’s little wonder the top clans leaderboard is full of

>> players like “>< Royal ><” from Kuwaiti clan “Q8 FORCE” and clan UAE’s “khalifa” (presumably from Bahrain’s

>> ruling House of Khalifa).

So just make game interesting for this Kuwaiti guys and you are bathing in gold.

Zynga had (and I assume still have) a 'platinum purchase program' that let players deposit money for in-app purchases via direct bank transfer. It was kept rather hush-hush, but it was definitely targeted at those spending thousands of dollars. It also offered things like referral schemes. A sort of 'high rollers club' for social games. I wouldn't be surprised if Supercell (who make Clash of Clans) had a similar thing going.

Link: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-secret-dealer-for-farmvil...

From 1998 to 2000 I worked at a startup where the IT staff all obsessively played Age of Empires. There were two ways of playing - RM (random map, regular match) which most people played and DM (death match) which is what we usually played.

We got to be pretty good as a team, but were never consistently as good as the masters of AOE DM, Team Sudden Death ( http://web.archive.org/web/20000816002743/http://www.laseref... ). In a 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 against them, they would almost always beat us.

One of the rumours that we heard at the time was that some of the children of one of the emirs in the UAE were crazy about Age of Empires, particularly DM mode. We heard a story that they had flown one or more SD members to the UAE for a week or so to teach them how to be master DM players. We heard that SD got very well paid for this tutorial.

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