Gambling within video games is hardly a new idea, having been around since at least the days of the NES. Despite this long-lasting legacy, the integration of the two different forms of entertainment has never really gone beyond the simplest possible measures. So far, the only options to play games like poker and slots come with no real money on the line. But will this always be the case, or will the changing landscape one day allow more?
The Loot Box Question
There has long been an argument over whether loot boxes are just gambling but without regulation. Online casino games have to undergo significant scrutiny to prove themselves fair and above-board, so should loot boxes not also be subject to these protective measures?
This is the opinion of countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, with others like the USA and UK following a similar path, as Lexology reports. Simply put, these countries decided that if these gaming companies were not going to regulate as online casinos do, then they don’t get to play a part.
Routes of Implementation
Potentially the easiest way to integrate casino games and video games would be to start at the biggest arm of the digital market – online slot games. Here, titles such as Rainbow Jackpot attract an enormous number of players through systems that are fun, easy to understand, and not device resource intensive. The combination of attributes could make them a perfect fit for games which operate some sort of casino environment.
Take something like GTA Online. With an enormous online casino available in multiplayer, the range of different games on offer with here gives players a lot to do. Instead of using their own ‘fake’ slot games, however, it might be possible to license a real developer like Barcrest to offer something for players above the legal gambling age. This could require another two seconds of start-up time to the already length loading period of the GTA, but many players would be happy to make that trade.
The question then becomes which type of casino titles would be right for which video games. A game in the Mafia series might be a great fit for a real casino, but you can’t exactly expect something like Psycho Cash Beast to fit into the theme. Just like every other element of the game, integrating exterior elements would require careful choice and ongoing attention.
A Matter of Rights
The final component we need to consider is how rights and properties might change over time. Problems here have been illustrated on a similar route, to use a previous example, in GTA Online. In this game, rights for music are often only licensed for a certain amount of time, after which they have to either be reobtained or dropped entirely. With casino games under much stricter scrutiny than music, this could be a constant frustration, perhaps not worth the effort for some developers.
Ultimately, before we could realistically conceive of online casino titles being put in video games for real, we need to see how the industry deals with loot box regulation. Should they take a responsible path, it could be very possible for us to one day have the opportunity to gamble freely and safely within some video games. Until then, this will still be an interesting development to watch.