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The FBI suggests mobile players be wary of anyone who wants them to spend real-world money on cryptocurrency to play a game on their phones.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

March 15, 2023

2 Min Read
Screenshot of a young adult playing a video game on their mobile phone.
Image via iStock

The FBI has advised players of mobile games to be wary of new gaming apps, as they may be used to steal cryptocurrency from their victims. Recently, the organization released a PSA warning that play-to-earn apps offering financial incentives to players are fake. 

Mobile games are heavily promoted in a number of ways, including by a real person (or bots) attempting to form interpersonal relationship with someone. Add in the attempted popularity of cryptocurrency, and it's easy to see how this can be taken advantage by people with ill intent.

Criminals are reportedly contacting players and pointing them towards a new game with the promise of cryptocurrency rewards in exchange for easy tasks such as growing crops on a farm. They further direct players to build a crypto wallet and then buy the virtual currency. 

As the FBI explains it, victims see fake rewards in exchange for more cryptocurrency spent. When they stop putting money into that crypto wallet, criminals use a malicious program players unknowingly downloaded to drain the victim's wallet. 

For those with an interest in crypto-based gaming, it's advised that they create their own unique wallet that isolates cryptocurrency, and establish a third-party blockchain explorer. It's further suggested that they use a third-party allowance checker to check sites or apps they may have accidentally given fund access to. 

Finally, victims affected by game-related crypto scams are told to report these incidents at the FBI's Internet Crime Complaints Center.

Cryptocurrency and the blockchain's image problem continues

Both the crypto and blockchain markets went through some rough times during 2022. Last year was a time when both suffered from massive (and widely known) accounts of fraud, arrests, and market collapse. 

In addition to this, there's still a general disinterest in either from most game developers. January's GDC State of the Industry Report showed that 75 percent of developers had no interest in the blockchain, and 56 percent confirmed they still weren't interested, same as the previous year. 

Even Neal Stephenson, the sci-fi author who founded his own metaverse company built on the blockchain, is backing away from crypto.

That isn't to say there's no remaining game industry advocates for the blockchain. Square Enix appears to be rolling full steam ahead with it, starting with its incoming NFT game, SymbioGenesisIt's intended to be the first in what's been called a "key part" of the Japanese developer's business going forward. 

Those words at the time were spoken by Yosuke Matsuda, Square Enix's vocal blockchain proponent who is reportedly set to depart the company this June.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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