Mobile Games and Racketeering Scams

All statements in this article I ALLEGE and are my OPINION:

sc1024x768 (1)Smartphones, we all have them, whether they be on iPhones or Android phones, we love to play games on them.  Many games are labeled as “free”, but as we all know, they are free to play, but far from free to win.  This model, in and of itself is nefarious, but certainly not illegal.  If you have read my blog, then you know I am a big supporter of capitalism.

There are so many games out there, it’s hard to keep track of them, but it’s a multimillion dollar business now.  Most are honest companies that make a good product.  More power to them.

This allure of easy money, also attracts the criminal element.  What makes a criminal enterprise so dangerous, is if it is disguised as legitimate.  Tweak a few things in the successful business model, make a few things illegal, but not obviously illegal, and the speed of income rises.

One of these (allegedly) nefarious enterprises is run by a (possibly) Chinese company by the name of Star Ring Limited.  They currently only have one game on the market called “Z-Girls“.  This game (I allege) is strictly written (and disguised) as a protection racket.  I will explain.

On the surface, it looks innocent enough.  You play as a commander of a girl’s school in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.  So far innocent enough.  It has cute “anime” style characters, and cute voice overs in many languages (you choose).  You need to develop this school, and train various fighters with different skills to defend the school from zombies (and other players, and more on that later).  In this game, zombies are called “Deads”.


Resources are the key to developing your school and defenses, as well as offenses.  You need to gather food, fuel, steel, and “alloys”, as well as “obsidian”.  The higher you level up your school, the more resources are required.  At a certain level (around 14 or so), it starts to become mathematically improbable of leveling further on your own.  Granted, given enough time, you may be able to slowly (ever so slowly) level up after gathering resources, but eventually the math begins to make that impossible.

They offer resources for sale, if you do not want to wait the ridiculously long times to level up.  Yes, this is a Pay To Win model.  Like I said, that isn’t illegal, but it is sleazy.

Multiplayer (and Racketeering)

com.xingjoys.zgirls.gp_6Here’s where things start delving into the (allegedly) nefarious.  This game encourages other players to STEAL what you paid for.  Yes, I said that right, STEAL what you paid for.  Normally, in a properly balanced game, you MAY agree to this, if it was made obvious from the onset.

However, this game is far from balanced, fair, and legal (in my opinion).  First, they allow players to form “alliances” (guilds).  That’s not normally a big deal, in fact it is normal for multiplayer games, however, they put no limits on the size these alliances can be.  This allows these alliances to turn into gigantic syndicates of bullies and thieves.  The bigger the alliance, the more bonuses Star Ring gives the members, thus allowing them to level up even faster.

Next comes the fact there is no limit on who can attack who and when.  This means a level 23 player can attack a level 10 player, a level 10 has ZERO chance to defend themselves.  The math is against them.  Now if this wasn’t enough, the bully can attack over and over and over until the other player either places a shield (which they have to purchase) or “teleports” away (yes, they have to purchase teleports too).  Seriously, in a matter of minutes, you can be stripped bare of both resources and army.

This level mismatching also allows one player (or a whole alliance) to absolutely obliterate members of a lesser leveled alliance, or single player, over and over.

Now keep in mind these other players never have a chance to level themselves up (the free) way, unless they spend exorbitant amounts of money on “upgrades”, be they resources, shields, teleports, speed ups etc.  However, there are speed limits on “building” defenses and “training” fighters.  This further limits your ability to defend yourself in a timely manner.

sc1024x768So the only way to “protect” the virtual goods you purchase with real money, is to spend more money for the level up protection means to do it.  It’s an endless cycle of spend, or else they let these gangs steal from you.  This, if I am not mistaken, is called a “protection racket”.

When people complain to Star Ring Support, their complaints fall on deaf ears.  In fact, they say that behaviour is “part of the rules”.  They openly admit it.

Now here’s where it gets even worse, they run events ENCOURAGING other players to steal resources and goods (purchased with real money) from each other.  This is (allegedly) Star Ring sanctioned robbery.

Knowing that there are players that stand no chance against this onslaught, they say spend-spend-spend if you want to protect yourself.  Their “upgrade packets” are priced $4.99 to $99.99, and only address certain aspects of upgrading.  This is designed to encourage you to purchase many packs just to even try to defend yourself, which is a hopeless cause, unless you are willing to actually spend THOUSANDS.

To Summarize

  • Any level player can attack any other player (no matter the level) as many times as they want, without any sort of cooldown period.
  • There is no restriction on the time they are allowed to attack.  If the attacker is sleazy enough, they see where in the (real) world you are, and wait when you are likely asleep.  Easy pickings.
  • There is no way to opt-out of the PvP part of the game.  You are forced into defending yourself at all times.
  • It is next to impossible to get to a level to be able to defend yourself without spending lots and lots of money.
  • Meanwhile, while using your purchased “enhancement packs”, these overpowered alliances and players can come along and STEAL what you just purchased.  Thus making it very very difficult to level up at all.
  • Star Ring encourages these attacks and thefts, even has events to give bonuses for it!  Their answer to a complaint?  “You should have paid to upgrade“.  That is a protection racket, plain and simple.
  • The illegal part of all of this, is not the horribly designed rules, nor the micro-transactions, as that in and of itself is just poor game design (if it was legitimate).  However, where it becomes (allegedly) illegal is when you spend money on digital goods and then others are encourage to steal those goods away from you, then you are told the only way to stop it is to “protect” yourself with more money (for more digital goods).
  • Get this (I just learned this), you get to kidnap a girl from the school in these attacks and WHIP HER (as many times as you want) and even, if you want, EXECUTE HER.

Who Is Really To Blame?

game-android-zgirls-new-2017-hotTo tell you the truth, I don’t really know how many more companies have popped up with this kind of “protection racket” business model, but I can bet it’s the big thing in Asia.

True, Star Ring holds most of the blame, but (I allege) so does Apple and Google for enabling this type of (allegedly) illegal behavior and collecting this dirty money for them.

Do you really think Apple and Google care about this?  Of course not, it makes them richer too.  So complaints to them fall on deaf ears.  What makes it worse, is ZERO ability to even talk to someone to get this issue addressed.

Watch What You Play

Be careful with the mobile games you install, especially those with their headquarters in China.  They are most likely not a legitimate capitalist venture, but a criminal one disguised as legitimate instead.

If your kids play this game, then I suggest finding something else for them, unless you don’t mind allowing them to spend ridiculously large sums of money on a mobile game.

Final Thoughts

I would not be surprised at all of these giant sized alliances (gangs) were run and organized by Star Ring themselves.  It sure would fit the (allegedly) criminal model.

Racketeering, often associated with organized crime, is the act of offering of a dishonest service (a “racket”) to solve a problem that wouldn’t otherwise exist without the enterprise offering the service. Racketeering as defined by the RICO act includes a list of 35 crimes.

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