Have you ever spent money on microtransactions or in-game items and then regretted it? Bernard Kim, CEO of Match Group, has. During a talk at New Street Research’s online dating summit, he dropped this anecdote while talking about mobile games (emphasis mine):
No one plays these games forever. After a certain point, people churn out of a game experience. And what are you left with? I’ve personally spent $50,000 in three months in Clash of Clans, and I still look back at that with lots of shame. I’m like “oh my God, what did I really get out of that experience?” Nothing, other than, like, a really amazing wall, which is not cool today.
You can watch the whole exchange below:
Wow. Okay so uh — why is he admitting this? And also: didn’t he used to be in charge of Zynga, and work as a senior vice president at EA’s mobile publishing arm, two other companies that would be interested in getting people to buy in-game items?
Yes, he did (though to be clear, neither of those companies own Clash of Clans). But now he’s in charge of Match Group, which owns — and makes money from subscriptions in — apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Match.com. The lead-up to him saying that he dropped $16,666 a month on Clash of Clans is that he was asked to “compare the elasticity of dating at Tinder versus mobile games. Is cyclicality pressuring net adds in 4Q and Q1?” His response was to briefly mention that there’s been a bit of a slowdown, and then to launch into a spiel about how the rewards for using apps like Tinder can be “literally endless.”
After talking about his wall, he turned to the presenter and said “Now you look at what can come out of Tinder — you meeting your wife. That’s an immeasurable reward, something that will last a lifetime, that will lead to unbelievable happiness. Maybe sometimes despair, but at least you’re feeling something!”
Essentially, the anecdote about spending around $555 a day on a mobile game is an ad, albeit one that comes at the expense of the industry Kim used to work in. He’s saying why you should spend your money on Tinder instead of Clash of Clans.
And I’ll admit it! As someone who met my wife on Tinder, I’m sympathetic to that message, though I never actually paid for the app. (Now that I think about it, that definitely means that the best ROI I’ve ever gotten was from an app that I used for all of four weeks.)
However, it’s also just... not really a great answer to the question he was asked, and he was mostly giving the presentation to investors and analysts, not potential customers. So it mostly just comes off as a kind of weird flex — or maybe a cautionary tale about how addicting mobile games can be to people with deep pockets.