Is RPG becoming the gaming standard across every genre?


Role Play Games (RPGs) have had a loyal and dedicated fanbase since the dawn of gaming. While gamers love RPGs in the US and other western nations, it is nothing compared to their popularity in the growth markets of East Asia. Almost three quarters of RPG revenue comes from Japan, China and South Korea.

Clearly there are enough reasons right there for RPG to be front and center in the minds of game studios. But something more is happening. We are increasingly seeing aspects of RPG in other genres – everything from FPS to sport games, even in some casino games. Is this by accident or design? Let’s take a closer look and try to work it out.


What do we mean by RPG?

Before we go any further, let’s be clear about what we mean by RPG characteristics. Taken literally, almost every game involves playing a role – in Sonic, you are playing the role of a blue hedgehog, but nobody would call that an RPG.

For the purposes of this discussion, RPG elements might include the following:    

  • Character progression and customization – in an RPG, your character develops or changes in certain ways as the game progresses. You can also choose to customize the character at the outset, to be more like you, or some idealized avatar of yourself, at any rate. Sonic always has the same characteristics, love them or hate them!
  • Open narratives – if the narrative is defined by the character’s decisions, actions or moral compass, the game has RPG qualities.
  • You need luck – sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. From landing lucky numbers to stumbling across the right loot box at the right time, RPGs rely heavily on RNGs – the random number generators that are the ultimate arbiters of who is lucky or unlucky in gaming.
  • An interactive virtual world – most of today’s RPGs take place in an open world environment. However, that’s not essential. We do, however, need it to be malleable – such that the player can change, mold and influence it in different ways.

Now we have some measures and properties, we can start to see the games that do and do not incorporate RPG traits.

FPSs and RPGs walk a narrow line


Now we have a clearer idea of what we mean by RPG game traits, we can see that they can easily slip into First Person Shooter (FPS) games. That’s not to say they are always present, however. A good example here is Call of Duty. Think about it a moment:

  • Customization – yes, you can customize your character at the outset, and then develop him or her by, for example, improving shooting skills or changing appearance or clothes.
  • Narrative – to an extent. This can be tuned out a little.
  • Luck – certainly, different classes, as they are known within the game, have different skill sets, and you have no knowledge of exactly what you are going to be up against until your battle gets underway.

Assassins Creed: Origins is another interesting example. Back in 2015, the Assassin’s Creed series would have been the last thing anyone would call an RPG. But when this new version came out, progress was suddenly reliant on your character’s development. Looked at from that angle, you can see how most FPD games are incorporating certain RPG characteristics.

Sport and even casino games are following suit

There’s a certain logic to FPS type games adopting RPG traits. But the concept also extends to other genres. For example, Baseball Superstars is ostensibly a sports game, but to progress, you must transform your character from talented rookie to world-beater.

Even more intriguing is the adoption of RPG traits into casino games. RPG slots like Dungeon Immortal Evil have quite complex story arcs that allow your character to progress and you to get a step nearer the jackpot. Why not click to find best online jackpots and then see which of those casino games incorporate RPG aspects according to the definitions we gave earlier? The results might surprise you.

Ultimately, RPG traits make games more immersive. Clearly, that will have an impact on player retention and return so we can see why they are appearing in more and more games.

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Last Updated: Mar 15, 2023