As more and more elements of gambling slip into traditional video games, we can’t help but wonder: where will it stop?
Loot boxes have been hot news over the last several months, and while we’re not sure we can say that purchasing a loot box in a video game is exactly gambling, there are certainly similarities. For instance, the return you get is completely random, and if you want to hit the “jackpot” — i.e. that one amazing skin that you desperately need — you’re probably going to have to make a fair few purchases. In some games, that means using in-game credit. But other instances require us to spend real money if we want that super-cool loot.
It’s a strange new world for videogames to be wandering into, and many gamers aren’t happy about it. It begs the question: just where will this gambling-isation of games go next? One element that could be really concerning is the introduction of wagering requirements.
A wagering requirement is something that many online casinos employ. It’s basically a threshold that means you’ll need to bet a certain amount of money before you’re eligible to cash out your winnings. Gambled £20 and ended up winning £200? Amazing… but you may need to end up spending another £200 before you can cash it out. This YouTube video provides more information about what is a wagering requirement. In a nutshell, it's a pretty shady practice that companies use to suck players into spending more and more money.
Anyway, online casinos aren’t our concern – but seeing the tactics they employ slipping more and more into video games is a worry. Imagine diving into a free-to-play game, winning a loot box fair and square that contains a really cool item, but not being able to use it until you’ve bought, say, £20 of in-game credit? With developers and publishers, particularly of F2P games, looking for more and more ways to secure their income, it’s a real possibility.
Thankfully, as regulatory bodies have become more interested in the rise of “gambling” in video games, there’s a lot more pressure on companies to ensure their games are fair. While shady play-to-win tactics are likely not going anywhere fast, let’s hope wagering requirements stay far away from traditional video games.