For devoted gamers, adapting to a rapidly changing environment is the key to a happy and enjoyable experience. As one of the fastest-growing sectors, the gaming industry transforms every year into a challenging world that demands more time, more resources, more wits – more everything. Perhaps you consider yourself a master in the field, but are you quite so sure there is nothing left to learn? Here is one interesting expression you probably haven’t heard about: gamblification.
Betting Features in Social Games
A term that baffles even the insider experts, it refers to the use of gambling mechanics or features for non-gambling purposes. Apparently, this is the latest trend that has taken over social gaming, so expect to see this word popping out everywhere you look. While many find it surprising that mobile and browser games now have gambling-based elements, think about it for a second, and you will realize this approach is not new at all. How many times have you been tempted to wager real money just to be able to unlock new levels with better potential prizes, or buy additional credits to spin the wheel a few more times in hopes of nailing that huge jackpot? And in ‘free’ games meant for fun, where the rewards are virtual and have no value in the real world? Even though we know it is a waste of money, sometimes we can’t resist thinking – what’s a dollar or two?
Gamblification is just a new, fancy word for an old phenomenon that we have been exposed to time and time again, but never actually perceived as gambling. Providers of these games do not force us, but they do entice us with the ’Wow, I’ve won!’ factor. A sense of accomplishment is at the core of the gaming (and gambling) experience, and big companies capitalize on this fact to boost player investment, that is to say, retention.
Now that it has a name attached to it and officially happening, we have to ask ourselves – are we ok with games that are supposed to be casual, free and easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a mobile device, yet subtly require real money for a chance to obtain in-game items that are otherwise useless?
For Kids and Adults Alike
There are many types of social network games with gamblification elements available on the market, from tournaments and puzzles to card-based and slot machine variants. We shouldn’t confuse these with applications meant for adults that offer chips or in-game rewards that can be redeemed or exchanged for cash, comp points, amenities and other items of value at various land-based and online establishments. Providers and hosting platforms of these products often collaborate with licensed and regulated casinos, in compliance with gambling laws of the country they are based in.
On the other hand, we have social gamblification games that are not classified as games of chance or skill and do not require appropriate licenses to be developed or distributed. Social gaming is a relatively new field and it has yet to receive proper regulatory framework. Outdated federal and state laws give the providers the green light to produce and offer these games via public channels without repercussions.
Even so, gamblification installments do have betting mechanics incorporated and offer non-redeemable prizes in exchange for real money. Most have some virtual currency or credits with fixed starting pools used for wagering. Once the balance is empty, more credits must be bought for cash to continue playing, obtain in-game items, enter tournaments or activate mini-games. Manufacturers refer to these gambling mechanics – special features that should extend the gameplay, enhance standard installments and make them more engaging for players.
Seasoned punters would not lose time and resources on games of such ambiguous ilk, but inexperienced players and especially minors are often easily beguiled. As a social network and mobile games, gamblification offerings are not subject to age restrictions or age verification procedures that all classified casino games legally have to be. And since nothing of value can be won playing them, developers and operators do not need to acquire gambling licenses either. As long as their terms of service state that underage persons are prohibited from playing, they are in the clear.
The gaming community is divided when it comes to legal status, classification or purpose of gamblification products. Some endorse the trend, while others advocate for stronger controls to counter exploitation of minors, gambling addiction and fraud. These are valid concerns, and now that the public is getting well-acquainted with the social gamblification concept, we can expect authorities are inspecting the offerings and platforms more closely in the future.