A former developer of the popular mobile game Game of War was arrested at an airport in Beijing, China before he was able to board a plane. The arrest was in response to a federal criminal complaint accusing 42-year-old Jing Zeng of stealing trade secrets from his previous employer, Machine Zone, responsible for Game of War: Fire Age and its predecessors.
Game of War: Fire Age is a high-grossing game that can be found at the top of most-downloaded lists on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store. The game is known for its provocative commercials featuring model Kate Upton exclusively in suggestive outfits.
Zeng began working as a director of global infrastructure for Machine Zone Inc. in late 2014. According to the complaint, Zeng grew unhappy with his boss and asked to switch teams, which his boss denied. Zeng was told by his superiors to leave the company, and, according to The Wall Street Journal, Zeng “…began downloading data on user behavior from a proprietary company database, according to the complaint, which cites log files from Machine Zone’s tech department.”
It was also reported that Mr. Zeng attempted to use the data as leverage in his severance agreement, demanding six to seven months’ pay rather than the offered three.
The complaint does not state what Zeng was thought to have in mind for the data he stole, and it was confirmed that no source code from Game of War was stolen. Rather than source code, the data depicted how players decide to and then actually spend money on games of the free-to-play variety. To quote the complaint, “provide valuable insight and a huge competitive advantage over other online game providers and competitors.”
Now that he’s been arrested, these complaints will be brought with Mr. Zeng to court, if not settled outside, and only time will tell whether or not justice will be served.