- In person peiwan is closely related to prostitution.
- Agent companies create fake female accounts to scam clients.
- Peiwan services lack regulations.
Online games have witnessed an unprecedented surge in China, with a projected market volume of $4.5 billion in 2020, highest in the world. Even some universities have created majors related to online games management. Companies have developed a series of new services trying to grab market share, including a peculiar one called “peiwan.”
“Pei” means accompany or hang out in Chinese, while “wan” means play. Peiwan essentially consists of online gamers paying others to play a game with them, remotely or in person. Maybe the gamers need an experienced player to help them through a tough task, or they simply want someone to hang out with while playing. It’s not surprising that in the second case, the peiwan is usually good-looking girls or boys.
A leading platform offering peiwan is Bixin. The price can range from $10 to hundreds per hour. There are even gamers that just post videos of them playing with a humorous peiwan and get loads of views.
However, since peiwan is still a new business, it’s not well regulated. Some posts online claim that peiwan in person is just another variation of prostitution, all you need is to agree on a price. As for remote peiwan, there is even more room for scams.
On platforms such as Bixin, it’s hard to get picked unless you’re on the first few pages with good reviews. Informants reveal that many profiles there are actually fake. Agent companies will hire, through Wechat, lots of female university students or housewives that want to make some extra money, and create many accounts with pictures of beautiful young girls to attract clients.
Once a certain profile is picked, they ask the hired female to pretend to be the girl in the profile and play with the client. They usually use software to make their voice sound sweeter. Also, agent companies have a set of prepared smart answers to different questions in case the client starts to doubt if the peiwan is really the girl he has picked.
There are groups in Wechat where these hired players will show off how much their clients have tipped them, sometimes hundreds of dollars. A former employee claims that her agent company owns over 15,000 hired players. She mentioned that many hired players will hesitate at first when they realize what they’ve been hired for, but most of them stay for the money.
She posted: “Not everyone is blinded by lies, they just choose to close their eyes for the money. Everything is fake, except for your money.”
On September 26, Chinese Central Television reported that police in Jiangsu have destroyed six criminal groups involved with fake peiwan. More than 1,000 people have been scammed for over $300,000. However, many comments on Weibo suggest that this is just the tip of the iceberg. This industry requires special regulation and soon.