Gambling features are often included in games. As an entertainment medium it’s pretty easy to do so, and gambling minigames, when they’re included, always seem to develop a popular following. RPG game franchises like Red Dead Redemption, Fallout, FarCry and Bioshock have all included gambling minigames successfully.
Even wider afield, popular games like League of Legends, Overwatch and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds are including game-of-chance elements (primarily through loot crates), in a bid to include more exciting reward content in their games. But what games offer the best minigames, and why are they so popular?
Red Dead Redemption is an incredibly good game. Rockstar maintained its player base for a long time with lots of DLC, including the widely acclaimed Undead Nightmare expansion, but the poker minigame you first encounter at the dusty tavern in Armadillo has occupied the minds of players for years since. Rockstar would enshrine its popularity by later releasing a multiplayer poker feature in the Liars and Cheats DLC Pack, and they even wrote up a handy guide on how to win for the players who said they were struggling. Inspiration goes both ways, though: many online casino games on licensed UK casinos have since emulated the success of Red Dead Redemption by introducing popular wild west titles, such as Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist or the Dead or Alive slot.
The newest Grand Theft Auto title does not have any casino gambling, but GTA San Andreas featured a full casino offering everything from blackjack to slot machines and even a Wheel of Fortune game. Repeated gambling would allow players to level up Carl Johnson’s gambling skill, which in turn influenced the max amount of money you could wager. On the Playstation 4, San Andreas threw in a couple of sweet achievements, making winning even better.
Bioshock is another game that immortalizes an otherwise small gambling minigame with an achievement. The infamous Jackpot achievement is lauded as hard to get, but no matter how many in-game dollars you put in, the payout of five hundred dollars for getting the achievement made it worth it. That and being able to brag to your mates about finally getting it.
Fallout New Vegas features a jazzy, steampunk-esque post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, so of course the game is going to include a whole host of gambling games for players to pass their time on, specifically blackjack, caravan, roulette and slots. New Vegas casinos are good fun, a great way to earn some cash in the games and there is even a humorous achievement, “The Courier Who Broke the Bank”, for getting kicked out of the top three in-game casinos on The Strip. Guides to get this exist online alongside a whole host of other tutorials and mods, some of which exist to make these games harder or higher staked, which shows that even now New Vegas has an active community waltzing around the game’s many gambling areas.
Lastly, The Witcher 3 comes in as an unlikely addition to the list. Why you ask? Well, because of Gwent. Gwent is a fun minigame where players place bets and then proceed to play a game themed on fighting a large-scale fantasy battle, complete with soldiers and siege engines. The winner takes the pot and if the player wins they can possibly get other rewards such as a few new cards to add to their collection. Gwent is incredibly popular minigame which has since evolved into its own standalone card game that has retained a significant online following.
All the games mentioned are great, but why do their minigames stand out? Generally, because they are fun, repeatable and often offer lucrative in-game rewards like currently and achievements. Often too in RPGs minigames like gambling really add to the immersion, instead of a town just being a block of buildings, it’s a living and breathing area where you can shop, craft, and spend time doing other activities.