I have been playing iMafia (iTune App Store link), a free social game on iPhone for more than two weeks. It doesn’t take up too much of my time, probably 3 minutes every session and I play it 3-5 times a day.

If you are good at personal finance, it will be revealed while playing this game. I believe that gamers with different level of financial education will have different outcomes. Let me show you what I mean.

What is iMafia?

iMafia is a free social game designed by PlayMesh. You can compete with other players (even if you aren’t playing at the same time), and buy virtual goods that will help you along the way. The graphics are pretty basic, with two-dimensional artwork and text-based instructions giving users a variety of options.

iMafia Screen Shot
iMafia Screen Shot

The game is not hard to play. If you have an iPhone, just download the game on App Store. After you have gone through the simple tutorial, you shall master the game in no time.

How is it connected to real life in terms of personal finance?

Just like real life, to succeed in this virtual world of iMafia, you need money (a lot of it). You need money to do these stuffs:

1. To buy real estate properties – this will give you hourly cash flow
2. To buy weapons, armors and vehicles – this will aid you to do quest and fight other mafias
3. To heal in the hospital – this will replenish your health after wounded in mafia fights.
4. To hire more mafia members – this will allow you to do higher-paying quests such as smuggling, blackmailing politicians etc., and also manage more real estates investment.

Basically, if you want to advance through the game, you need a lot of MONEY $$$.

iMafia - Real Estate Investment
iMafia - Real Estate Investment

How do you make more money in iMafia?

As time goes by, your money will increase provided that you have a positive cash flow in the game. The money will pile up hourly, a lot faster than real life where most people get their cash inflow monthly.

Several things you can do to earn money are:
1. Fighting other mafia to steal their money (only if you win) – this requires Stamina points and Health points.
2. Completing quest such as smuggling, robbing banks etc – this requires Energy points. You will need more mafia members and better equipments to do quests that pay more money.
3. Investing in real estate to increase your hourly cash flow.

You can see that doing item No.1 and No.2 require active participation in the game. You need to keep playing the game in order to earn more money. But when your Stamina, Health and Energy points are depleted, you can’t proceed further until they are replenished over time.

Only item No.3 – investing in real estate will provide more money for you even without you playing the game all the time.

iMafia Game Strategy

Here is my game strategy:
1. Invest the money in real estate in order to have a higher cash flow. I buy a lot of properties until my mafia size can’t manage the portfolio (one mafia member is limited to manage only 5 properties). When I hit the limit, I will hire a new mafia member, one at a time.
2. When your level advances, you will have Skill points to increase your ability. I use the skill points to increase energy level, so that I can play less frequently in the future.

iMafia - Quests
iMafia - Quests

If you are playing this game, add my character (KCLau) as your friend to share our progress. You can add friends in the café.

It is a fun game to play and it won’t take up too much of your time. Please share your character below in the comment section so that I can add you as friends too. What is your strategy?

Update 28th May 2009
The below information is provided by Druzel, who masters the iMafia game. (Thanks a lot Druzel!)

In general, Playmesh try their best to balance the game. If you pay careful attention as you play, you will find the best way to play, level up and/or make money. Also, please note that Playmesh points are NOT required for ANYTHING in the game. They only help you advance faster. Thats all.

The Raid quests

The 20% for the Raid Gun Dealer quest refers to the chance you have of getting an Uzi. Each time you perform the quest, you have a 20% chance of getting an Uzi. That means, you have an 80% chance of NOT getting one (the likely outcome each time). Over time, this balances out but its entirely possible (and unlucky) to perform the quest 20 times without getting a single Uzi. Its also possible to do the quest 10 times and get an Uzi every time. Its the luck of the draw.

Once you have your 10 Uzis (and the other requirements), you can then go for the military boats. Note that this quest only gives you a 10% chance. You only need 5 boats (instead of 10 Uzis) but the chance of getting one each time you perform the quest is only 1 in 10.

You may decide not to do these quests in favour of those that make you money. Then come back to the Raid quests at a later stage.

Armani Suits:

These you can get by downloading the other (free) Playmesh apps. You must pay careful attention to the instructions and follow the steps exactly or you will not get the points. Read the steps in the App Store for each application.


You gain attack and defense points by buying weapons, armour and vehicles for your mafia members as well as using your skill points to increase your Attack/Defense statistic. Add all these up and when you attack an opponent, your Attack points are matched to their Defense points. If you have more points, chances are youll win (though there seems to be a small amount of chance involved). The closer the end result is, the more experience points you get (up to 9). Also, please note that the amount of life you and your opponent lose always adds up to 29. So, if you easily beat your opponent, you might lose 6 points. He would then lose 23. You would also receive fewer experience points. This is to balance the game. If you lose more health, you would also gain more experience. See how it works?

Moguls, brawlers and workaholics

Moguls generate 10% more money. They gain income every 54 minutes instead of every hour (60 min). Brawlers regenerate health and stamina 10% faster. Workaholics generate energy 10% faster so they can do more quests. Those players who do not choose one of these three player types lose out on these bonuses.

Mafia Members

Heres the formula for calculating the cost of the next mafia member. Just copy and paste into Excel:
For example, your 80th mafia member would cost 79*79*79*500 = $246,519,500.


Pay attention, read different forums and youll find out all this stuff for yourself. Im a level 60 mogul and have been playing for 62 days. Its fun but it shouldnt take over your life. If you have complaints about the game, provide Playmesh with some constructive feedback instead of whining and complaining. If you dont like it, dont waste your time on it. Lifes too short.


Personal finance author and trainer

    133 replies to "Learn Money Tips playing iMafia"

    • I have beaten several level 80 or 90 people because of how good my mafia is. If you want to be friends my username is sixxpac or syxxpac I don’t know which one but try both.

    • Syxx-pac

      I’m a level 45 mogul. I’m very good at this game though. I currently have 550 mafia members and still have about $24,000,000,0000 in the bank. I got lucky on a couple of bounties, but that’s what you gotta do. I have beaten several level 80 or 90 people because of how good my mafia is. If you want to be friends my username is sixxpac or syxxpac I don’t know which one but try both.

    • Aaron

      I am a level 10 on iMafia. I have over 17 Billion dollars.

    • christopher gray

      i love this game so much

    • Andy

      8 days playing it, lvl 57 healt 1480 stamina 80 mm 1358

    • Druzel

      I got Artillery at level 95 so that’s a bit earlier. And yes, you should have enough energy to allow for 8 hours offline (I seriously hope you get 8 hours of sleep at night – less is not healthy). 🙂

    • AcidPete

      @ Lution,
      Artillery is available after level 100. (I’m pretty sure that’s when it showed up.) It’s 500,000,000 per and 5,000,000 in Upkeep. Trang Darts also become available/mandatory for the newest mission. they are 250,000,000 w/ 1,000,000 in up keep and 10 are required , along w/ 10 rival disguises, for the mission that nets from 220,000,000 – 300,000,000. (70 Energy required for that mission.)

      Also, to those disbelieving that building up energy is worth it, I disagree. I’m up to 150 energy and just before I go to sleep I use all that I have. By the morning I normally am back up to 120 energy or so. If I have to travel for work or otherwise am not able to get to the game (I-pod here) then it is quite beneficial to have that “buffer”.
      AcidPete Level 104 – 162 Mafia $208,000,000 +/- an hour. 😀

      Just my 2¢.

    • Druzel

      @bowchicka: Why? Money accumulates at the same rate regardless of whether you’re logged in or not.

      @KCLau: The formula to determine cost of the next Mafia member is different for the first 10 Mafia members: squared x 5000. If you have 5 members, the 6th costs 5 x 5 x 5000 = $125,000. Once you have 10 members, the formula then becomes as you state in your post above: cubed x 500 or N x N x N x 500. Example: your 179th mafia member costs 178 x 178 x 178 x 500 = $2,819,876,000.

    • bowchikawowow

      buy as much properties as you can, set your iphone/ipod t to ‘never’ in auto-lock and leave it overnight (in a dock or charger)

    • Alex

      imafia name: BoNfIgz :: lvl 108 (so far)

    • kneegrowkiller

      you all are garbage lmao i’ve played for like a month and i make over 40mil an hour and have over 80 mafia members…… secret is to buy properties in bulk, 10 at a time. it saves cash. second of all is to be able to fight other mafia members because i can easily make over 20 mil per fight in some cases, with 17 stamina, you do the math. Also, do quests to gain experience, not to get money, because you can get more money faster by killing people and through investments.

    • Lution

      Any vehicles better than the spy plane after level 100? Trying to decide what to do for quests since I’m not worried about money.

    • Mafeikin

      Well if you play the right moves you will generate allot of money. My best advice would be 1000hp 400 stamina, other points are useless. For examle u spend 100 skill points on energy it will take ages to regenerate and u will make max 200 mil or smt? At the same time whit 50 stamina my best is 1.4 bil and I have 152 stamina so I average 2 – 3 bil , invest the lot get another 5-10 mil. And Im olny 88 atm whit 58 days or smt? and there are like 3-5% people who can beat my at my level. And main thing offcourse dont attack people who will gain you anything less then 10 mil. Cos u just waste stamina + it will cost u more to heal and you will gain pennys. If your low on skillpoints or to high lvl then do some low lvl quests on imafia II and get there skill points for mastery, higher quests u spend more energy and it takes longer to gain mastery. I hope this was any help 🙂

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