Social Network Games: Fake Mobsters, Real Racket

You might enjoy raking in money as a fake mobster in Mafia Wars, or collecting cotton subsidies in FarmVille, but TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington argues that the real racket in virtual games is for the companies that run them, and for the social networking sites that host them.

Is it? Maybe. All of these games can be played without spending any real money, and without signing up for shady offers to receive more in-game currency. But the extra loot can make the game much more fun.

The offers are similar to ones we’ve featured here before—from innocent things you might sign up for anyway like a Netflix subscription, to scammy quizzes and misleading subscriptions.

Zynga, one of the leaders in social networking games, not-so-coincidentally announced a few days after the controversial original post that they will no longer serve ad or reward offers that ask for users’ mobile phone numbers.

Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell [TechCrunch]
Are You Getting Scammed by Facebook Games? [Time]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.