Project Babel developer Colopl says that a pair of employees poured roughly $79,000 into the recently launched mobile game with the goal of artificially raising the game’s ranking on top grossing app lists.
Colopl published a press release about the incident earlier today but, as industry analyst Dr. Serkan Toto points out on Twitter, the news emerged after the market had already closed meaning the discovery has yet to be reflected in Colopl’s stock value.
A translation of that press release says that Colopl became aware that two employees spent roughly ¥8.5 million (~$79,000) in Project Babel with the explicit purpose of increasing the game’s perceived income to boosting its sales ranking.
Colopl notes that it is carrying out an investigation into the matter, but has yet to confirm that similar incidents have occurred in the past.
In his tweets on the subject, Dr. Toto points out that grossing rankings are typically used by Japanese investors as a way to measure the success of an app. Project Babel launched last month for iOS and Android in Japan.
Colopl is a publicly traded company.— Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) June 21, 2019
The news came out after market close on Friday in Japan, so the hammer should come down on the stock on Monday.
This kind of manipulation is not uncommon - but getting caught is.