Daigo loves Sony's free-to-play mobile game Fate/Grand Order. A lot. So much so, he told the Wall Street Journal, he's spent $70,000 – or more – on in-app purchases.
"When we played the first chapter, many of us were moved to tears," Daigo, 31, says about the game. "The story zooms into each character. It makes you feel something for them. You want what you love, right?"
Playing Fate/Grand Order, he says, takes up most of his day; even when he's eating, he's playing. "[I'm playing] unless I'm sleeping, driving or taking a bath," Daigo says.
Fate/Grand Order is entirely free-to-play, but players can spend real-world money for better chances at winning in the game. As Sony's most-profitable game, it's been criticized for turning players into gamblers – a common worry among lawmakers and gambling commissions about video games featuring pay-to-win and lootbox mechanics.
"I've spent about $70,000 on the game. Maybe more. But I don't like to think about that," Daigo says. "I just want to make the characters stronger."
Daigo details how he once spent $500 getting one character, seemingly detailing how he began spending so much in the game. Wanting that character to be level five, he adds, he ended up spending a total of $2,500 on the character. His parents, whom he lives with, don't know how much money he's spent in the game, Daigo says.
"Some people spend $18 on a movie and feel moved," he says. "I've spent $70,000 on Fate/Grand Order. But it moves me."
In-app purchases and microtransactions are currently hot-button issues in the game industry, with one survey finding one in 10 game developers planning to include them in some way in future games. Given the tumultuousness of the issue, the ESRB recently announced it would be working to better educate parents about these types of games, as well as introducing a new label indicating if a game will have microtransactions.