Gambling takes many forms. It’s not just about putting your money down on a sporting event or going to a casino, but it can occur throughout our entire life. Simply making a choice between two things can be a gamble. We always want to make the decision that will benefit us the most but we always carry the risk of ending in a worse place. We can do research on every possibility and strategy, so we’re ahead of the game. All of this can come into our lives as we do something and hope for a result and it’s becoming more prominent in games.
Casinos games have long been tied in with video games. You would find slots machines, poker and more in many games across time, as well as their own dedicated titles. Such games include the Grand Theft Auto series, the Yakuza games and even Pokémon have done this. While real world casinos have remained hugely successful, online casinos have been on the rise. They are basically video games, expect you can win and lose real money. Playable on various devices, these aren’t the only ways you can put up money, then win or lose it, in video games.
In recent years, many video ages have incorporated systems that allow players to essentially gamble money. Micro-transactions and random loot boxes allow player to use their money to buy new perks, upgrades, costumes and more for certain games. Overwatch for example has boxes that player can unlock in the game that will contain random colours, voice lines, in-game currency, etc. You can purchase packs of these boxes though for various prices so you can obtain what you need. You don’t directly purchase any item though, instead relying on luck to get what you want. Only in-game currency can be used to obtain specific items and you can’t use real money to get it, making everything you obtain random.
FIFA has a similar system, in which players use real money to buy random packs of cards. These will contain players they can add to their teams and the opening of said packs has become popular in itself on YouTube. What makes this even more of a gamble than the system in Overwatch, is that rather than unlocking unessential cosmetics, in FIFA you obtain players for your team, with them having different stats. This means that you are required to buy player packs to strengthen your Ultimate Team, with luck determining if you get a strong or weak player. If you don’t spend enough, you can wind up with a weak team.
These boxes and packs found in Overwatch, FIFA, League of Legends, Injustice 2, Dota and similar are basically gambling. A player will use real money and hope for a winning result, which can vary depending on what they want to unlock. However, they can often go through boxes and never get a single item they desire or they could get all they need. Games would usually allow you to buy such things direct with real money (such as Street Fighter V) or you unlock things entirely with in game money earned by playing (Tekken 7).
These systems have remained popular though, especially as more and more content becomes available. As long as the developers earn money and the fans keep buying them, loot boxes are likely to stay a staple of video gaming and gambling.