The Similarities Between Gaming and Gambling

Gaming and gambling are more alike than you’d immediately allow yourself to think. When you think of gambling, you’d typically imagine going on a site like to place bets on a football match or try your luck with a slot machine.

But the core of gambling is chance and risk. And plenty of game mechanics employ these exact aspects in core gameplay in either a major or minor way. Let’s dive deeper into this.

World of Warcraft – RNG & Chance

World of Warcraft has since its inception had core mechanics that resemble mild and harmless gambling in regard to the loot system. When you kill a boss or finish a mythic difficulty dungeon you have a fixed percent chance of receiving an item. Later, in the Legion expansion, they implemented a weekly chest that awarded one piece of random loot based on the level of mythic dungeons you completed. Therefore, you were never sure whether you’d get something good or anything at all when you went into a dungeon. That is the risk you took.

You could also buy “re-roll” tokens for gold that would allow you more chances to obtain loot from the same boss. This is probably the aspect that resembles real gambling the most in the game. You pay for a chance to win.

The players themselves are also known for establishing their own methods of gambling in the game. If you play WoW Classic you will eventually encounter “Death Rolling”. It’s a player-made number game with high gold stakes that sometimes leave players with all of their in-game currency lost in a matter of minutes.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 – “Surprise Mechanics”

Gambling is a highly profitable industry, that much is true. And plenty of game developers have realised this and utilised it as an aspect of their games. One of the most notorious examples is what EA integrated into the game Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The game launched with a loot box system. With real money you could buy boxes that contained weapons, perk cards, emotes, skins etc. in the game. But what you got was always random.

So, you gamble your money for the chance to acquire some of the best equipment in the game to gain an advantage over more average players. The player base at large lashed out at this move, but several European courts also pressed charges, like the Belgian Gaming Commision, directly calling the loot box system gambling. EA fought back, claiming the boxes to be “surprise mechanics” instead, but they were later forced to repeal the ability to acquire advantages in the game by paying.

MMO’s And the Auction Systems

Many MMO’s give players access to auction houses where they can sell and buy almost any item obtainable in the respective games. In some sense this resembles the real-world stock market.

Every item for sale on the auction house has prices regulated by supply and demand of the players. This makes exceedingly rare items incredibly expensive and more common items less expensive. The gambling aspect comes with players speculating on the market. They anticipate price drops and increases and buy large amounts of specific items worth millions of gold to then sell it when the price is better to turn a profit.

Some people even have enough capital to buy out the entire market and post everything again with a slightly higher price to turn a profit that way. But the market is unpredictable, and you may as well just be stuck with a bunch of useless materials worth nothing in the end, losing most if not all of your gold.

Runescape – Wheel Spins

Finally, many games also employ a wheel of fortune that you can spin for great rewards in the game. Runescape is a prime example of this. All players get a couple of daily free spins. If you want more, you can buy them or become a subscriber of the game.

You never know what you get, but the wheel always has a chance to give you something completely game changing and powerful that you almost can’t get otherwise, providing a heavy incentive to keep spinning until you get it.

Furthermore, Runescape also has a chest system where you use keys obtained either through wheel spins, real life money or completing quests, to open chests giving you great rewards. Modern day Runescape has really embraced gambling as an aspect of core gameplay and it seems to be accepted by a majority of the player base.

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Last Updated: Feb 12, 2021