What does Whale mean in gaming?

A gamer who shells out big bucks in a video game

In the world of mobile gaming, those who spend a significant amount of money on microtransactions, such as buying power-ups and weapons, are often referred to as “whales”. This could be a gamer who shells out hundreds of dollars for booster packs or other upgrades in a mobile game that offers in-app purchases (IAP).

The term “whale” originates from the gaming industry, where developers and publishers are always on the lookout for players who are ready to spend a lot on microtransactions. It’s like hunting for whales in the ocean. These whales give themselves an unfair advantage, not because of their gaming skills, but due to the size of their wallets. This often leads to resentment from other gamers who don’t spend as much.

Some gamers feel sorry for these whales, seeing them as victims who are being manipulated and tricked out of their money. They believe that the whales are being exploited for profit.

Outside of gaming, the term “whale” can also be used in other contexts, such as comic book stores or casinos, to refer to someone who spends a lot of money. For instance, a comic book store employee might call a customer who frequently splurges on collectible card games (CCG) a “whale”.

Example for using ‘Whale’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see that new mobile game?

Yeah, I downloaded it yesterday. It’s pretty fun!

I agree, but have you noticed those players who seem to have everything?

Oh, you mean the whales?