Gamblification of Games
Gamblification of games is a new trend that has been fueled by the rise in popularity of free-to-play online games. It can be described as when a game integrates concepts from gambling in order to increase engagement and monetization. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as match-making systems that track a player’s skill level and show them opponents of a similar skill level. Another example would be the “bounty” system, where players would be rewarded for killing other players.
Gambling elements are also present in games like Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), such as the EverQuest series, where there are slot machines like the ones at bingoblitz and other types of gambling in the game. Because these games are often played by children, it is especially important that parents take this into consideration when deciding whether or not to allow their children to play.
In order to gamblify a game, developers would need to utilize four elements:
- The concept of risk and reward
- The concept of chance, which to be gamblified has to be quantifiable over time
- The element of uncertainty
- The element of trust
- Use of microtransactions
Risk and reward is usually present in many games already, as players can lose their progress or even the game itself if they die and continue at a certain place in the game or start over from scratch. Gambling games try to make players feel like they are winning by making them win more often than not, however, when a player loses what they have lost cannot be immediately recovered. In these situations, players are taught to become more cautious and less daring while playing as the consequence for dying becomes much greater than in risk-free gameplay. This concept of risk versus reward is one that is not limited to gambling games, and has been integrated into many other areas. As being able to win and losing create tension, this can be used to increase engagement in gamblified games.
The element of chance can be quantified in a variety of ways. In gambling games, the odds usually are based on the player’s skill, but true randomization could just as easily be used. The point of using chance is that because there are no trends or patterns in it, players cannot predict the outcome of their actions and must therefore continue playing until they either win or lose. Chance is also used to integrate risk and reward into gamblified games, since a player’s skill may determine their odds of winning or losing. Chance can be used outside of gambling games as well. For example, game developers could use chance in gamblified games by creating random events that players could play through and utilize chance to simulate the risk/reward system more closely.
Uncertainty can also be incorporated into gambling games in order to make them more interesting, however if the element is used in this way it should be done so in moderation. Gamblification of games also uses uncertainty. For example, within a loot box system, the player will never know for sure what the contents are until they open the box. This can add excitement to the experience and keep players engaged for longer periods of time. It is important that this element is used correctly, however, and that it does not become too frustrating as it would cause players to lose interest in the game.
In gambling games, trust is often present because players must trust that they will receive something in return for their money as well as trust that chance can be trusted to be on their side. Trust is also important for gamblified games as players must trust that the game they are playing is fair. This helps games to stay exciting, as players never know what will happen next and they cannot predict the outcome of their actions, and it works hand in hand with chance.
The gamblification of a game can be done in several different ways. One of the most common methods is the use of microtransactions. These systems can take many different forms depending on the type of game being played, such as loot boxes or expansion packs for video games or pay-to-win systems that make certain items or abilities available to purchase only to those who pay money (I’m talking about you EA).
Gamblification can be done with a single character and the use of microtransactions or it can be done across all of the characters in a game through something called “multiplayer progression.” In multiplayer progression, all players are on the same playing field and further customization of their character is based on how well they play within the game. As players improve their skills, they will eventually be able to unlock more items and abilities than other players who have not played as often, which will increase retention rates for them because they know that if they continue playing, they will receive more rewards than those who do not.
The “pay to win” model is especially common in games that are free to download – players who want more than what the game provides, can buy items to be more powerful than other players. These systems are not gamblified because they do not utilize chance and therefore do not have risk or reward associated with them. Another form of this model is when an online game charges for all new content that it releases.
The integration of gambling into games is relatively new and as such, there are likely many ways that it can be improved. One of the biggest criticisms of gamblified games is that they target children with them. As a result, game developers should determine the age limit for all players who wish to play the game and enforce this regulation in order to ensure that younger players are not able to play games that they do not understand. This will keep children safe from predatory practices by forcing developers to create gambling games that are only appropriate for adult audiences.
Another way in which gamblification could be improved is by keeping an eye on players with a history of addiction issues. There are certain genres of games that are more likely to cause addiction than others (for example, massively multiplayer online role-playing games) and they should be carefully monitored to ensure that players with addictive personalities do not develop issues because of them.