Several years ago there was a brief flurry of online interest in an app called “Long Game.” The flurry of online interest was presumably because of the easy referral bonus (there’s still a bonus for referring people, though I’m not sure if the referee gets anything out of it). It also seems there are occasional increased portal payouts for opening an account, so you may want to wait for one of those to come around again.
Anyway, it turns out the app is still around, and I’ve been playing around with it for the last few weeks, so I thought I’d share my impressions.
It’s no longer free by default
It seems that Long Game shuffled around their back-end banking partners, and it now costs $3 per month unless you direct deposit $400 per month and spend $100 with the linked debit card. That’s obviously not a huge hurdle if your payroll provider allows you to split your paycheck arbitrarily, but if you’re going to do that (or pay $3 a month) then you should certainly commit to getting the maximum value from the program.
Stripped away from the cartoonish graphics, Long Game is an online checking account, your “Everyday Account,” with a linked debit card, and an unlimited number of online savings accounts, or “Savings Jars.” Money in your Everyday Account doesn’t earn interest, and money in your Savings Jars earns 0.1% APY.
The conceit of Long Game is that in addition to the 0.1% APY earned on your “savings jars,” you also receive an in-game coin currency by completing certain tasks. The coins seem to have undergone a massive inflation sometime in the last few years so now rewards are measured in the hundreds of thousands of coins. I haven’t gone very far into the Long Game mythos, but the starting goals in my account are, for example:
- account creation (something like 20 million coins for setting up an account)
- deposits (500,000 coins for your “First Jar Deposit”)
- debit card purchases (one million coins for your “First Swipe”)
You also get to spin a wheel once per day for free and win up to 2 million coins.
There’s an additional in-game currency called “brains,” which I believe are used to unlock additional games in the app, but I haven’t earned enough brains to know how that function works.
This is the core conceit of the app: while your savings jars only earn 0.1% APY, you can earn additional cash (or coins, or cryptocurrency) by spending your coin balance on a number of lottery-style games in the app. To start with there are “wheel-style” games, “card flip” games, and “line” games. Each game costs a different number of coins, and has a different maximum payout. There is no skill involved, the payout of each game is determined by a random number generator as soon as you spend the coins, and the games are not “fun” in any sense of the word.
However, there is another game, which is the real heart of the app as far as I’m concerned, which is the weekly “Omega Millions” drawing. You can enter this game an unlimited number of times (for 20,000 coins per entry) and there’s an option to automatically generate your entries so you don’t have to manually select your “numbers” for the drawing, which I gather is held at 6 pm Eastern Time each Thursday.
How I would maximize the app
If you find this all quite boring, don’t worry, it was pretty boring for me to research as well. But lots of things are boring, and some of them are still worth doing. If you have enough monthly income and idle cash, and don’t mind setting up some automatic debit card transactions, this is how I would go about stripping down the app to its bare essentials:
- Set up a $400 monthly direct deposit, either by splitting your paycheck or using a peer-to-peer payment service like Venmo, PayPal, or Cash.
- Set up $200 in recurring monthly debit card transactions. This does not have to be a single transaction, so you can throw a phone bill, a cable bill, and an electric bill on there as long as the total reaches $200.
This combination gets you Diamond status in the app, which in addition to eliminating the $3 monthly fee also quadruples your daily free spin earning. Next:
- Open the app once per day, take your free spin, and collect your free brains (again, I have no idea how the brain function works but you get 3 free per day).
- On Thursday morning, after taking your free spin, open the Omega Millions weekly drawing game and convert your entire coin balance into randomly-generated drawing entries.
Given the way they hand out coins, I expect this strategy would generate hundreds of entries per week with perhaps 10-15 minutes of work per week. Again, this is not “fun,” but if you won a few hundred bucks a year doing it you probably wouldn’t care how much fun it was.
There’s a back door, but it doesn’t sound like much fun either
If you click around a little bit on the website (not the app, which appears to have out-of-date rules hard-coded into it), you’ll find that like all such contests, there’s a way to enter without jumping through all these hoops: by sending postcards! Each postcard you send gets you 1 million coins, good for 50 entries into the Omega Millions drawing. There doesn’t appear to be any limit on the number of postcards you can send, but they do have to be mailed separately, which means $0.35 in postage plus the cost of the cheapest stack of postcards you can find. It’s been a while since I’ve had to calculate the expected value of a lottery entry, but according to my back-of-the-envelope calculation the expected value of 50 Omega millions entries is about 56 cents. If you can find cheap or free postcards, don’t mind hand-addressing them (did I mention the postcards have to be hand-addressed?), then over time you might have a slightly positive expected value.
I’m not trying to sell Long Game to anybody, and I’m certainly not going to go all in on it myself. But there’s nothing intrinsically unreasonable, in a period of incredibly low interest rates and excessive spare time, to distributing your idle cash around a variety of vehicles with uncertain payoffs. Given that your Long Game balances are FDIC-insured, there is only upside potential to participating as heavily as possible in a weekly free drawing. Hopefully this post at least moves you more quickly up the app’s learning curve.
And if you do win a million dollars based on this post, don’t be too embarrassed to send a cut my way.