CFFC / Debt Empire

Helping New Zealand youth deal with the
dangers of debt


In New Zealand, debt amongst our lower socio-economic groups has reached near epidemic proportions. A whole generation of Kiwis have grown up seeing debt normalised within their families and communities. Payday loans, hire purchases, lay-bys, layaways, short-term loans. An industry of predatory-lending has sprung up directly targeting our most vulnerable population.

The Commission for Financial Capability are on a mission to empower young, vulnerable New Zealanders to make better spending decisions. No one has ever armed them with the tools to question the practices of these predatory lenders, who distract them with instant credit and goods on demand, while hiding their unfavourable fees and rates.


We worked with Saatchi’s NZ, to help define the type of game mechanic that would create the desired learning behaviours. We landed on a clicker style game which plays on repetitive bursts of interactions. This drove home the different evil tricks that Loans companies would use over and over again, whilst keeping it fun and addictive.


Debt Empire mechanics is design to teach players the ins and outs of the debt trade by putting them on the other side of the equation.

Players take on the role of an unscrupulous loan shark and attempt to grow their empire by peddling debt loaded with sneaky terms and conditions, slapping customers with hidden fees and making them bankrupt. All the while being armed with the tricks of the trade and shifting their basic perceptions around bad debt.

The game uses a virtual economy through which players add customers, open new lending portfolios, hire people to collect their money and slap customers with ridiculous fees and interest rates. A leader board lets them share their progress and compete against their Facebook community.


Debt Empire has an average game time of over an hour.

Debt Empire is designed to be used as a tool in the New Zealand curriculum, putting it in the hands of over 400,000 children.

We've helped kids learn about the
dangers of debt

Services delivered
  • Customer interviews
  • Creative ideation
  • Game design
  • Wireframing
  • Illustration
  • Game economics modelling
  • Branding
  • Game architecture design
  • Copywriting
  • Systems architecture
  • Frontend build
  • Backend build
  • Social media integration
  • Application support
  • Product iteration
  • Unity3D with Spine animations
  • Azure leaderboard backend
  • Facebook sharing & friends leaderboard
  • C# frontend & backend