Investing in A Mobile Game Development Business
Fatwa No: 462223

Question

I am thinking about investing in a mobile game development business but I am unsure about its permissibility because of certain elements. The model of the business is hence: 1. My team and I will develop a mobile game. The game shall have electronic music that is typical of mobile game apps. Some of the apps developed will also have animated characters such as robots and human-like characters but these will be clearly animated and will not bear a resemblance to actual humans. 2. The game will be promoted on the playstore using bought reviews. These will essentially be fake reviews but being a small company we cannot possibly hope for enough genuine reviews to promote us in playstore rankings so that our game gets featured when someone is looking for a similar game.3. The game will be free to download i.e. we will not be making any revenue from the download of the game itself. Nor will there be any in-app purchasing where real money is used to purchase special power-ups in the game itself. 4. We will be generating revenue through ads displayed on top of the game screen and featured between game screens. We will be paid by the advertisers everytime their ad gets displayed in our game and more if the ad is clicked and leads to a download or other desirable action. 5. The upshot is that we will only be generating revenue through ads and the game itself is only essentially a billboard to which traffic is driven. My question is that is income derived in the above model halal. Jazak Allah for your guidance in this matter.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

In our view, it is impermissible to invest in such a field since the games in question include some Sharee’ah prohibitions like music; the fact that the promotion of the game would make it appear in a manner that is against its reality; and it includes some sort of cheating and misleading.

As for your point that the company is small and this is the only way to enable it to have real views that are sufficient for promotion in the Play Store classifications, it does not legalize deceit and misleading.

The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “The one who boasts of receiving what he has not been given is like him who wears two garments of falsehood.” [Muslim] Commenting on this Hadith, scholars say that it refers to the person who boasts off what he does not truly own.

We recommend you to use your intelligence and professionalism in searching for a door to lawful provision, stressing that they are so many – praise be to Allah – and they would not be all shut – by the Permission of Allah – in the face of an ambitious youth like you.

May Allah bless you and provide you from His Blessed, Lawful Sustenance.

Allah knows best.

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