Top 123 Video Games Unexpectedly turned into Gambling
Video Games have been selling you Gambling in one way or another.
You need to read this complete list of 123 examples we have compiled. Some will surely surprise you.
Scroll down and see for yourself!
Casinos as Seen in Video Games
Let’s start with the simple ones – video game franchises that actually have some kind of casino or gambling activities portrayed in them.
We’ll give you eight big-name franchises that had you put on your nice suit and start gambling – all in virtual form.
The GTA Series: Are You Even Surprised?
Rockstar made a name for themselves by leaning into several controversial game design choices.
There is no franchise more exemplar than the GTA games when it comes to rustling some feathers.
Whether you were driving around the neon saturated streets of Vice City, the rainy Liberty City, or the iconic San Andreas county, you had countless gambling activities available at your fingertips.
Here are some examples:
1. GTA Vice City
You could bet money on Vice Street Racer events, as Tommy Vercetti in Vice City. While not Gambling per se, as you had to win the races using your driving skills, betting was a crucial part of the deal.
2. GTA San Andreas
The game introduced a whole Las Vegas-styled area called Las Venturas, brimming with casinos. Three of these are accessible by the game’s protagonist Carl Johnson.
They host playable versions of Roulette, Blackjack, Poker and Slot games. You can also bet on horse races from several betting shop locations.
3. GTA IV
Its two expansions, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, host versions of Hi-Lo and illegal boxing match betting.
4. GTA Chinatown Wars
The mobile and portable game has a Scratch Card function for its players.
5. GTA V and Online
While in GTA V, you only have illegal street races to bet on, GTA Online comes with a flurry of “legal” gambling activities. These were introduced with 2019 The Diamond Casino & Resort update.
The GTA games are controversial by design, so the casino life additions would only make sense.
Cowboy Boots and Gambling Bets: Red Dead Redemption Series
6. Red Dead Redemption
You didn’t think we’d be done with Rockstar Games, did you?
One of its other noteworthy franchises, The Red Dead games, have dipped their toes in some games of chance.
Red Dead Redemption has its Gambling Multiplayer Challenges, which include Liar’s Dice and Poker. These come with the appropriately named Liars and Cheats DLC.
Don’t like playing rigged wagering games with other players?
Red Dead Redemption has these games of chance in Single Player mode, with some extra activities, like blackjack. Of course, not all minigames are luck-based. You can also engage in arm wrestling, horseshoes and five-finger fillet.
Fun Fact: When you win a total of $1000 from Gambling, you also unlock a scrap of the Savvy Merchant outfit.
7. Red Dead Redemption 2
But that’s an old gen game. What does Red Dead Redemption 2 offer in turn?
Poker, Blackjack and Five Finger Fillet make a return in the sequel. Rockstar also added Dominoes to the Red Dead Redemption 2 minigame list.
We’ll see if the Multiplayer options also make a reappearance.
What would a Western-themed game be without its fair share of Gambling? Games of luck and the Red Dead games are natural partners.
8. The Fallout Games: Betting in a Radioactive Setting
Let’s move to the industry juggernaut created by Interplay Entertainment and currently owned by Bethesda: Fallout.
Say it with me: War, war never changes. And neither does Gambling, as it seems.
Most Fallout entries, whether new or old, hold some kind of bet-related minigames. Here are a few:
Fallout 1 and 2 have some variants of Roulette.
You can play some Craps in Fallout 2. While Craps tables are present in New Vegas, the actual game is unplayable.
Fallout 1 and 2 have you bet on boxing matches in New Reno and Junktown, respectively. Slots are also present in these two.
Blackjack is playable in Fallout 1, while you can find Poker in Fallout Tactics.
Lastly, Fallout New Vegas, a game centred around the eponymous city rebuilt from pre-War Las Vegas’s remains, naturally has the most gambling games in the franchise.
You can encounter both recognizable casino activities, such as Poker, Blackjack and Roulette, as well as several original minigames. These are: betting on fights in the Thorn, Tedding or the Gladiator Pit, or races between radroaches or molerats.
Life in post-apocalyptic is stressful enough, so it’s normal for the survivors to engage in Gambling to ease some nerves.
9. How the Bioshock Series Handled Gambling
Since we’re at the classics, we may as well discuss the Bioshock entries.
Bioshock has an odd relationship with Gambling.
Here’s what we mean.
Slot Machines are littered all around Rapture’s entertainment venues in Bioshock 1. If you played the game on a console, getting a $250 meant that you’d get the “Lucky Winner” achievement.
Now, making players spin endlessly on slots for a reward is not the most responsible move. We understand it as a game feature.
Things changed, however, with Bioshock 2. You no longer get any trophy for gambling profits. The Slot machines also are well hidden in a room at Siren Alley, well protected by Turrets.
Don’t worry. They’re on your side once activated. Consider them your casino bodyguards.
The Slot Machines make a return in the Burial at Sea Episode 1 DLC. However, Elisabeth’s and the game’s attitude changes drastically.
The first time you, as Booker DeWitt, play them, your female counterpart advises you to “Best quit while you’re ahead.”
Fun Fact: Slot Machines have a narrative element to them in Burial at Sea. They will get stuck on 7-7-☆. Remember, 77 is the number on the winning ball that Booker picks at the Raffle Square in Columbia. Isn’t that neat?
10. Watch Dogs Series: High-Tier Hackers Gamble at Times Too
Remember the GTA clones built around being a highly skilled grey hat hacker?
You may. We here have some good memories of messing with the city’s traffic lights or hacking into stranger’s phones in order to get some crucial or at least amusing info.
But do you remember the gambling minigames the games had?
Watch Dogs had some basic Slot Machines implemented. The rules were simple. You bet $5 and hope to win.
Ubisoft probably had a turn of heart, as they changed this in Watch Dogs: Legion. You could no longer play slots. The machines were still present, but only as hackable objects.
Trust us! If you’re a hacking rebel on a tech rampage around the city, it’s a better idea to hack Slot Machines rather than play them straight.
11. Cyberpunk 2077: Casinos Are Present, Only They Aren’t
We now move to more recent video games, with the CD Projekt Red’s 2020 Cyberpunk 2077.
We know how polarizing the discussions around this sci-fi AAA game tend to get. We also don’t want to add to the pile.
Note, however, that during the Tyger and Vulture Gig, you are tasked with entering Tyger Claws’ casino to collect evidence on a dealer that has been stealing the enterprise.
The actual casino is hardly well fleshed out. There are no gambling activities in the game at the moment.
12. Remember When Pokémon Games Had Slots?
Here’s an example you didn’t expect. Bear with us. We’ll explain:
The 1996 Red and Blue games from the series had something called the Game Corner. It effectively was an online casino where you could wager virtual funds on slot machines.
Was it a good look on Nintendo’s part?
The company would say no. Consequently, in later iterations, such as Let’s GO Pikachu & Eevee, a casino building is present, but you as a player cannot use any machines there.
Fun Fact: Let’s GO Pikachu & Eevee got a PEGI-7 rating, despite the casino’s portrayal. Nintendo surely knows how to keep a squeaky-clean image.
Games that Make You Go: Is This Gambling?
You may think that simulating a gambling activity is all that video games can do.
The story is a bit more complex. Why you ask?
Some games employ design directions that are effectively gambling with some extra novelties.
These range from a grey area functions meant to enforce a compulsion loop to all-out masked wagering systems.
There is cause for caring about these issues, as in some cases, these models can prove detrimental to some.
There are many examples from the Video Game Industry.
We’ll give you 61 games divided into 12 genre categories.
Let’s enumerate them:
Shoot your Way to Loot
Loot-shooters fall in the harmless category.
They put you in a single or multiplayer environment. The sole objectives are obtaining loot while eliminating other enemies and not getting killed yourself.
The stuff you loot generally offers some perks or better gear, allowing you to approach more difficult tasks, thus forming a compulsion loop.
Most of these examples have no explicit form of Gambling incorporated. However, we cannot ignore the random loot systems’ similarities with those of, say, Slot machines.
All things said, there are loot shooters that only employ the random stash tactic as a game design choice.
Here are some examples:
13. Borderlands Series
The space western science fantasy FPS games created by Gearbox are the epitome of loot shooters.
This is especially the case since the developers came with the loot-centred functionality well before having a narrative for the games.
14. Shadow Warrior 2
Flying Wild Hogs’ 2016 sequel to the 2013 reboot of the 1997 original Shadow Warrior 2 has you double-wielding guns and cutting your enemies with an iconic katana.
While the game being nothing but endless enjoyment, resembling the arena shooters of old, we cannot attract the attention to how the looting mechanic was one of the key facets for fun.
BioWare’s Anthem tried its best to differ from the Destiny games it inadvertently was going to be compared to.
Although one area where they could have tried harder is the extensive looting system.
Props to them for trying to move away from this model, though.
The Dreaded Loot Box
Now we’re getting to the tricky part of video game design.
Simply put, loot boxes represent a virtual consumable you can redeem, with or without real money, and that subsequently reward you with a random prize.
Some examples should come to mind: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s crates, Team Fortress 2’s Mann Co. Supply crates, Hearthstone card pack.
For some, these signal video games’ doom; for others, they’re just another functionality they have to avoid in the worst scenario.
For a small fraction, however, loot boxes represent the reason they stay with a game and the one thing they spend large sums, possibly going down a road of financial ruin.
You may ask what the big deal is with loot crates. Different stroke for different folks, right?
Well, it’s not that simple. Countless studies show loot box mechanics to be the ‘entry drugs’ to many damaging player practices, gambling addiction included.
What can you do, then?
We don’t advise you necessarily abstaining from using or even spending money on loot boxes. We surely didn’t ourselves.
However, you should know which games have them and how they work in each case.
That’s why we provide our definitive list of games that have loot box mechanics.
Here you go:
Competitive Shooters: Between Skill and Chance
Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch has also been in hot water regarding unlicensed gambling claims.
Loot boxes have two uses for developers.
They’ll keep players that want to win them around.
For example, Overwatch rewards you loot boxes for levelling up, winning, and participating in events.
There’s a chance some players, or “whales,” will spend some good money on these, just for the endorphin rush of opening them. Overwatch has got them covered, as it offers boxes for real currency.
That’s why by offering loot boxes purchasable with real funds, developers are getting close to an illegal form of Gambling.
Here’s the motto:
It’s not about earning money. It’s about tying monetary spending to immediate enjoyment.
Maybe things will get better with Overwatch 2.
17. Rainbow Six Siege
We arrive at one of the greats among tactical shooters, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege.
The game got its own loot boxes, called “Outbreak Packs,” in 2018. They arrived with a whole overhaul of the game as well as a small controversy regarding how new players would pay less. Additional Summer and Halloween-themed packs were added later.
Tips: Luckily, Rainbow Six Siege’s packs offer no duplicates, so you’re sure to get something new every time.
18. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
CS:GO, a name eponymous with competitive gaming. Valve’s trailblazer game is also quickly associated with the infamous, but popular nonetheless, weapon cases.
These function by the classic loot box scheme: each case provides you with a random cosmetic item of varying rarity. They need a key to open. You buy keys with real-world money.
You can’t really ignore how the case opening has a one-to-one resemblance to lucky wheel or slot games.
And neither did many regulating bodies. Belgium and Netherlands outlawed CS:GO cases altogether.
Fun Fact: The grey area occupied by CS:GO cases led to some weird measures. French gamers can ‘scan’ boxes and get a peek at what it holds.
How does this work?
Once you have a loot case, you just scan it and see what’s inside. You still need a key, and the scanner comes with a price.
Cases naturally created a market for cosmetic items.
Can you manipulate the market using the scanner feature?
No. French gamers can’t buy loot boxes. They can only earn them by playing.
We can’t say if Valve’s new measures will change the gambling aspect of CS: GO cases. The overwhelming number of third-party case opening sites may indicate the contrary.
But that’s a story in itself.
19. Team Fortress 2
Valve’s other PvP classic also signalled the advent of this almost-gambling microtransaction method.
All the signs were there. Team Fortress introduced its Mann Co. Supply Crates while moving to a free-to-play model.
Fun Fact: Valve even hired esteemed economist Yanis Varoufakis to research virtual economies. Can’t say they don’t care.
These also use some form of Key item and reveal a certain item usable for one of the game characters.
Valve surely fell in love with the model. And why not? It made them a lot of money.
Hat simulator or not, Team Fortress 2 upheld the trend and certainly profited from its crates.
Be aware: Belgium and Netherlands prohibit players from using crates.
Battle Royale – A Genre Synonymous with Loot Crates
20. Fortnite Battle Royale
Both a players’ favourite and an esports up-and-comer, Fortnite is a game from Epic Games.
The developers recognized the growing popularity of battle royale games. Consequently, they created Fortnite: Battle Royale as a game-mode, and later released it as a free-to-play standalone version.
And they hit the jackpot.
The fanbase grew to over 10 million players after only two weeks.
How did Epic Games capitalize?
Through microtransactions, of course. Including loot boxes.
Their process was more intricate. V-Bucks, the in-game currency, could be earned or bought directly. With these, you could get either cosmetic items or purchase the battle pass.
The latter gives you customization rewards progressively.
You buy it, and you get some rewards after certain amounts of grinding.
We’re not done yet: there are two tiers, silver and gold, with different rewards.
Fortnite escaped illegal gambling allegations by implementing V-Bucks and disallowing items’ monetization.
Their underlying systems, however, are eerily similar.
21. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Coming back to battle royale, the iconic PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has looting running through its veins.
Not only during battles but also outside, players can get many rewards for their play activity.
Locked crates were among these. Some you would get as prizes for your performance, some are only acquirable from the shop.
Some free crates only required Battle Points to open. They still had the gambling element, but with no real cost.
Nevertheless, you still need a key to open free crates. And keys cost real money.
Fun Fact: There are limited edition crates that need no key nor anything else. You may see them as free spins with no wagering entailed.
22. Rules of Survival
Rules of Survival is a multiplayer battle royale game similar enough to others, like PUBG, to prompt a copyrights controversy.
And the influence shows.
We don’t mind the crates you loot during matches for random items.
But once you finish your gameplay and are rewarded some in-game credits, you are invited to buy Supply Boxes with random drops.
What can we say? The model is almost synonymous with battle royale games.
We couldn’t have expected it to lack from Rules of Survival.
23. Scarfall – Royal Combat
Moving to battle royale games arriving from the Indian market, XSQUADS’s Scarfall is a mobile title initially released in 2019.
The gameplay is virtually the same you would encounter in other games in the genre.
Scarfall is oversaturated with gamified mechanics.
Right off the bat, the game hits you with a random daily reward…
…and then with a first-day bonus.
And, over all this, you have your regular and premium supply crates.
You buy these with a currency solely obtainable with cash.
24. Apex Legends
Apex Legends is among the many free-to-play battle royale games on the market.
The game employs “Core Packages” that spawn around the map in marked spots.
You know how it works from there. They then provide three random items of varying value.
In 2019, Apex Legends faced its own controversy with the “Iron Crown” event.
Here’s how it went down:
- Several cosmetic items obtainable solely by buying crates were added to the game.
- The most valuable item could only be bought after collecting 24 other items.
- This raised its actual price to a ridiculous $170.
It’s not even the only instance where the game overstepped bounds of decency.
Apex packs only drop the Heirloom items at a one-in-100 rate.
Just for perspective:
The packs’ drop rate for Heirloom items is worse than almost all actual slot games.
How MOBAs made friends with Gambling
25. League of Legends
One of the early MOBA successes is one of the main popularisers of gambling-like transaction practices.
League of Legends has no shortage of random drop systems.
Let’s go through them:
- Chests come in various forms, from Hextech to the Masterwork Chest. They require a key that you can craft with key fragments.
- Mystery Tokens give you a fragment from a certain item. These are divided into 13 categories.
- Orbs contain a small amount of content, such as one item shard.
- Capsules have a limited collection of item fragments.
- Little Legend Eggs act like capsules for Little Legend skins.
- Behavioural rewards, such as loot for levelling, mastering champions, or acting honourably, are present.
These are all ruled by chance.
They also don’t give you an item, but rather “shards” you can use to craft some content.
Of course, there is a game inside there somewhere. Still, you might easily view League of Legends as a framework for those at Riot Games to extract funds from players, using their shiny “carrots.”
Certainly, the esports scene only facilitates this state.
26. DOTA 2
The parent of all subsequent MOBAs, DOTA 2, also proved to influence such games in adapting chance-based item drops.
Valve called it a treasure. It looked like a colourful and stylized series of vials that were ready to burst with cosmetic items.
You get it by simply playing the game. It initially was the case that you also required a key to open the reward.
And keys costed real money. The system changed, however, and these were eliminated.
While the model is still gambling conceptually, at least it does not ask you to spend your funds on it.
A similar system made a return in Artifact, the card game spinoff.
27. Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard’s crossover MOBA Heroes of The Storm used to have random drop crates buyable with real currency.
Not anymore, luckily!
Random item prizes are still available, although the chests can be bought solely with in-game currency.
While still retaining the randomness specific to Gambling, we cannot condemn anything in Heroes of the Storm’s model.
Paragon is a multiplayer online battle-arena game from Epic Games.
While originally starting as a pay-to-play game, its move to a free-to-play model coincided with loot crates’ introduction.
These can either be bought with in-game funds or won at random after matches.
To open a loot crate, you require a key that costs almost as much as the crate itself.
Microtransactions’ Negative Effects on FPSs
29. Star Wars: Battlefront II Beta
Here’s a good example of what the loot boxes can generate, besides revenue: backlash.
During the beta trials, EA decided to introduce a loot box monetization model. This came not only with aesthetic perks but actual gameplay advantages, such as unlocking certain characters.
This is the general scheme for bad loot box implementation:
- Take a game and limit players’ capability artificially.
- Offer a monetized ‘shortcut’ feature.
- Effectively turn that feature into a game of pure chance.
Star Wars Battlefront II ticked all the boxes.
We’re not necessarily making claims regarding design ethics.
It is the case that this system actively pushes players to wager real funds.
Be aware: Belgium had deemed loot boxes to be unlicensed Gambling amidst the Battlefront II controversy. Not similar to, but actual illegal Gambling.
Ultimately, EA eliminated the loot box mechanics entirely from the game. That’s some kind of happy end.
30. Destiny 2
Bungie’s Destiny 2 slowly became synonymous with games-as-a-service.
The free-to-play multiplayer experience is constantly updated, with developers adding free content.
There’s one question you should always ask yourself: If it’s free, how do the developers make money?
Microtransactions are generally the correct answer.
Destiny 2 has its Bright engrams. Don’t let the pompous name fool you. They have just renamed loot crates.
Now, one way of sweeping bad practices under the rug is complexity. Bright Engrams provide Bright Dust that you may use to purchase better items.
You can obtain it through other means, but the game actively discourages it, whether it’s heavy grinding or dismantling legendary items.
31. Gears of War 4
Another classic hit by the microtransactions plague, Gears of War 4, had a wide array of random drop crates.
We don’t need to tell you how their addition damaged the game’s reputation.
If you’re a fan, you might already know.
Let’s go through some fans’ opinions:
Some fans drew attention to how only the Elite case gives you a good chance of getting in-game skins.
These cost about $5 or 3500 credits. This is important since a single match rewards you with 75-100 credits and lasts for 10 minutes on average.
What does that mean for you?
Pull your calculator out!
Given these numbers, you would have to devote almost two hours to one case.
More so, you can generally consider it to be gaining the equivalent of $0,1428 at most from a match.
Which you will, of course, spend eventually on a case.
Playing Gears of War almost becomes a job in itself.
But players could do one thing to avoid turning the game into a chore: paying.
32. Halo 5: Guardians
It’s a shame that we have to add Halo to this list.
However, Halo 5: Guardians joined the trend with the addition of REQ Packs.
These were items you got with earned Requisition Points or with hard-earned cash.
These come in three flavours: Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
Here’s a gold one:
33. Call of Duty: Mobile
Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty series is another instance of triple-A games moving to a loot crate model.
Supply drops were introduced in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The trend continued with other titles such as Black Ops 4 and WWII.
More recently, Call of Duty: Mobile, the player distraction simulator, showcases a series of drop crates.
These are attainable by way of COD Point, an in-game currency.
COD: Mobile wears its similarities to gambling games on its sleeve. For example, the High roller Crate bears the picture of a spinning roulette with cards and dice flying around it.
The randomized system has changed lately. You can now see the rewarded items for each case. However, the game incentivizes players to keep returning to them as the items rotate in time.
34. Battlefield 4
DICE’s Battlefield 4 got its own Battlepacks with the Spring 2015 Patch.
Contrasting with previous franchise entries, you could no longer unlock all weapon attachments by performing well in matches. Half of the customizable features became reserved for Battlepacks.
Optical attachments, which would directly affect your performance, required you to win them through one of the random cards dropped by the random loot feature.
EA had tried to distance themselves from the infamous model with Battlefield 5 and Anthem.
The memory of frustrating gameplay in Battlefield 4 remains, however.
Remember the free-to-play survival game that looks like DayZ and Minecraft exchanges some glances at some point?
Unturned was a popular title despite its simplicity. It was an easy activity to sink some hours in.
In later developments, Unturned got its own gamified features in the form of Mystery Boxes.
These were obtainable during playtime, although, as of 2015, you can only buy them from the Steam Community Market.
In a move surprising no one, they also required consumable Keys to open.
You initially could buy these from the Market, although this changed when users started artificially manipulating prices.
The same post-apocalypse, a different latitude.
Vigor is a Shoot’ n’ Loot multiplayer survival game set in Norway. It was initially released in 2018 by Bohemia Interactive.
You can assign a crate in the lobby before playing using the crate booster.
Once you enter the game, the drop will arrive in a designated area.
You then shoot your way to it, and if you’re lucky, you can claim the stuff inside it.
The enjoyment scheme in loot-shooters is similar to a slot machine that you may wager on only once you successfully defeat your enemies.
It essentially is gambling with extra steps.
Luckily, you do not bet real money in Vigor.
And we can understand the enjoyment of chance as a constituent element of gameplay.
Facepunch Studios’ Rust was a true punch in the face when it launched.
It took the multiplayer survival genre by storm.
No wonder, as it combined two popular games into one: the ragged survival gameplay of DayZ, along with Minecraft’s crafting.
You can blame it on the milieu it appeared in, but Rust also added loot crates.
These came in several tiers, among which the Gambling Box.
Perhaps this was the most appropriate name for the item – props to them for honesty.
Gambling boxes would drop skins of a certain monetary value.
And as simple as that, Gambling or at least wagering were tied to the whole of Rust’s gameplay.
Rust also has implemented a Workshop where cosmetic items are available… for purchase.
Each week, a rotation of skins became available, surely fueling some players’ fear of missing out.
This sealed the deal.
Despite virtual, Rust’s inner economy depended on players wagering in the hope of getting some rare skin.
Would it have been better if all the skins were available to buy?
Yes, as it would lower their “pricing.” But as it stands, Rust thus turned into a virtual gambling platform with a survival game attached.
Luckily, the Gambling boxes are history, but a rusty one at that.
38. Critical Ops
Critical Ops is a tactical FPS initially launched for mobile platforms.
It had a short-lived availability on PC via Facebook Gameroom. This was not the case anymore as of 2017.
C-OPS has its Weapon Cases – random drop items costing 200 credits. You would also get one free case in the tutorial.
These come in two forms: standard and premium.
The latter costed a hefty 700 credits and had better rates for better-tier items.
MMOs: Where Loot Boxes Were Born and Thrived
MapleStory is a free-to-play side-scrolling MMORPG, where players spend their time in the “Maple World,” defeating monsters and levelling up their characters.
You may think that judging by the name and theme, the game surely was developed in Canada. That’s actually not true. MapleStory being created by the South Korean Wizet team.
The game has some intricate shop mechanics, even allowing players to open their own shops using an in-game permit.
Fun Fact: MapleStory is widely believed to be the first game to implement a loot-box system, the “Gachapon ticket.” These had a cost of JP¥100 and could be used in booths across the world map.
40. Zhengtu Online
Another of the mechanic’s early adopters was ZT Online, a Chinese MMORPG.
Its reasoning was somewhat different. Here’s the story:
Most early ZT players would access the game from Internet cafes, where the PCs would come with the game already installed. This caused their sales to plummet.
The game’s development team Zhengtu Network then adopted loot boxes in order to capitalize on its entire player base.
And it worked! The game’s monthly revenue sky-rocketed to over $15 million.
This opened the way for several other adopters.
41. Star Trek Online
“There is a way out of every box, a solution to every puzzle; it’s just a matter of finding it.” – Jean-Luc Picard
We’re not certain that Captain Picard had loot boxes in mind when uttering these words.
He certainly might’ve, following their addition into Star Trek Online.
Essentially working on a free-to-play model, the game accommodated “Lock boxes” that dropped during normal gameplay but required a “Master Key” to open. And these costed you.
Remember this key system. You’ll see it later.
42. PlanetSide ARENA
We had high hopes for PlanetSide ARENA, we really did.
The scale of the combat in the PlanetSide series was, as the name suggests, planetary.
Sadly, as of January 2020, the servers are down due to low activity. Even worse, the game will be immortalized on our list for its loot crate addition.
Supply crates would be loaded into a control deck by a friendly faceless robot, and you would get three items. These would include both cosmetic and usable rewards.
43. Game of War: Fire Age
The Gift system of Game of War: Fire Age is a more unfortunate one.
It follows the general rules for loot crates: Gifts have a random reward for players. You get these through events, monster-slaying or by direct purchase.
Fun Fact: You may get a special Gift for reasons such as the game being in maintenance.
As the rules go, despite following the gambling model, these Gifts are meant to incentivize you to play and return regularly.
What’s so bad about Game of War’s system?
Players are allowed to trade items with other players via the Gift Mode.
The game effectively creates an in-game market for its items.
Do items have monetary value?
Not quite. Their value remains in-game. But note that you can sink in some real-world money to obtain them.
Bottom line, the situation is quite grey.
44. Rec Room
We’re entering VR territory with Rec Room.
Say you wish to evade your daily struggles by delving into a full virtual reality experience.
Then, personalizing your character is key.
Well, the only things you may not escape from in Rec Room are the loot boxes.
The Packages in the game provide you with a random cosmetic item you can wear. They are obtainable using tokens, and in turn, tokens are purchasable with real-world funds.
So, don’t strap your VR goggles too tight. You might need to take it off and look for your wallet.
45. Mobile Strike
Mobile strike is that one MMO strategy game with the app icon of Arnold Schwarzenegger staring at you while blasting a gun somewhere off-screen.
You surely know it, as Machine Zone employed a massive advertising campaign.
Fun Fact: Mobile Strike had some issues with UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for an ad featuring scantily clad women.
It’s feasible that the game will have some issues with the UKGC also, due to its Supply Crates.
You get these incrementally while playing.
They are the proverbial carrot that keeps you playing.
And of course, that Mobile Strike has a paid VIP option, with extra opportunities.
46. Guild Wars 2
While Guild Wars 2 has no loot boxes, it has something called “Ecto Gambling.”
What is that?
Basically, you can use globs of ectoplasm in order to obtain random items. Getting the globs is as easy as spending some in-game coins.
Additionally, Sandstorm card gambling and Mystic Forge gambling were present in the game. These are exactly what they sound like. The latter uses an Ectoplasmic Stone to substitute an item in the mystic forge.
47. Lord of The Rings Online
Neither did the mythical times of Gandalf and company escape the scourge of loot boxes.
The 2011 MMORPG’s adoption of the “Lock Box” and key model already shows the model’s early viability for free-to-play video games.
Lord of the Rings Online would only be an indicator for the wider trend.
Role-Playing Games with Microtransactions: A Contradiction?
48. Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Let’s remain in Endor for a bit and mention Shadow of War while we’re at it.
Did you finish the storyline?
Maybe you did, and you know that there’s a second ending you need heavy grinding to achieve.
And maybe you went through all the hardship but remember that Shadow of War had several loot boxes that would give you all the allies you needed, with no work and a real money fee.
Interestingly, the developers actually took steps to eliminate these features and removed them entirely by July 2018.
49. Mass Effect 3
The success attained by FIFA’s card pack system had an effect on another one of EA’s properties: Mass Effect 3.
The game effectively was the first full-price game to offer a loot box feature on its launch in 2012.
These purchasable packs were means to sidestep online grinding for uncommon gear.
The trend continued with Mass Effect: Andromeda implementing a similar system.
If you want to restore your hope in the gaming industry, we have just the example. Dauntless, a free-to-play RPG from epic games, launched in 2018.
It initially had loot boxes offering random cosmetic items.
Following the criticism outpour for the model, they just removed them.
As simple as that!
Customization still exists – players can buy cosmetics directly and don’t have to “spin the wheel” and hope for the best.
Customer choice and good practices, that’s something novel!
Absolver, developed by Sloclap, is an example of a good randomized loot design.
You play the game and defeat some enemies. They eventually drop some random items, so there’s an element of chance there, but these are rewards for your skills.
No complaints about Absolver’s random drop system. Slow clap, indeed.
52. The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Bethesda’s free-to-play RPG, The Elder Scrolls: Blades, naturally has its own tinge of gamification.
After having played the Elder Scrolls series, you might think that Chests are just containers for depositing your stuff.
No, in Blades, you get Chests as quest rewards or buy them using Gems.
There are five types with different rewards: Wooden, Silver, Golden, Elder and Legendary Chests.
These are not gambling per se while remaining random at heart. Their drops depend on your character’s and town’s levels.
The Chest function approaches wagering, but we consider it to be harmless.
53. The Division
Ubisoft’s online RPG, The Division, had its issue with lack of content.
Still, the developers had the time to add a loot box mechanic.
This was, for many players, a death sentence for the game.
Moving to The Division 2, there are signs that Ubisoft will kick the microtransaction model down a notch.
54. Fire Emblem Heroes
Fire Emblem Heroes, along with Animal Crossing, were the two Nintendo mobile games banned in Belgium for microtransactions resembling Gambling.
For players outside Belgium, we don’t say that you should entirely abstain from these titles.
Just keep in mind that, how many fans observed, you are playing a game of chance.
Casually Gambling: The Case of Casual Games
55. Zynga Games
You might remember Zynga, with its dog logo, if you’ve spent enough time on social-network platforms.
They’re the dev team behind Farmville, so you can thank them for all the join requests you received on Facebook from friends and foes alike.
Be aware: Besides countless mobile games, they’re also known for developing several slots and gambling apps. Just so you know where their hearts are at.
Their products have been one of the catalysts for many microtransaction models, loot boxes included.
56. Clicker Heroes
Need to restore your faith in gaming?
We’ll give you one reason.
Who would’ve thought that an idle game can be a good example for the industry at large?
Not us. But we were wrong.
Clicker Heroes is a free-to-play idle game with a fantasy theme. It had, like many others, had randomized drop systems that required real money. Consequently, as its developer observed, a small contingent of players spent thousands on these.
Games, in general, are addictive, clicker games, even more so. And adding loot boxes is only pouring gasoline on a raging fire.
Here’s the surprise: the developers actually decided to move away from the model for the sequel!
That’s commendable. Just for that, Clicker Heroes 2 should be checked out.
57. Candy Crush
A game that might get banned for its loot crates is Candy Crush.
The mobile game also had a lavish $150 bundle, among many others.
That’s when a Missouri Senator stepped in, with a bill meant to regulate such practices.
Now, we won’t wait for legislation to recommend not playing such games without being in the know regarding their practices.
58. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Who would’ve guessed that an inoffensive game like Animal Crossing would harbour questionable practices?
Well, it did. Fortune Cookies were a way of earning a random item using real-world funds.
While you could buy one for a staggering 5000 bells, it was a lot easier to get them for 50 Leaf Tickets apiece. The latter is a purchasable currency.
59. Coin Master
Now, while Coin Master has no proper loot boxes, it provides players with something similar.
It requires the player to spin a slot machine in advance of the game. You can potentially bypass this, but only by paying.
In a way, this is the reverse of the general scheme.
Instead of smuggling gambling into games, Coin Master forces players to gamble or pay to sidestep it.
It doesn’t mean that it’s much better. On the contrary.
Be honest, can you even tell the difference between Coin Master and actual slots?
Fun Fact: German satirist Jan Böhmermann discussed the game on his TV show. This led to German Authorities looking into Coin Master’s practices. No blacklisting came out of this.
Card Games: They’re not Poker, They’re Still Gambling
Blizzard’s Hearthstone is the go-to game for collectible card game aficionados. If you spend enough time duelling with other players in matches, you will surely encounter card packs.
The packs come in standard and wild formats. You obtain each of them differently:
- You get standard packs either by competing in the Arena as rewards for completing certain quests or by recruiting a friend.
- You can get Wild format cards by crafting.
Both of the types are available for monetary purchase.
Fun Fact: Each expansion and event also came with additional packs, such as Goblins vs Gnomes, Grand Tournament, Knights of the Frozen Throne and Boomsday Project packs.
Once you have your card packs, you open them and are rewarded with five cards with different drop rates.
Be Aware: Blizzard implemented a duplicate protection system for legendary cards and a triplicate system for others. Meaning that you won’t get two of the same legendary, nor three of the same for any other.
61. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
While we’re at card games, let’s talk about Witcher’s version.
Gwent first appeared in the Witcher series as a minigame, only later evolving into its own standalone game.
It already had seven expansions. Similar to Hearthstone, Gwent has its card kegs that award you five random drops.
These are obtainable during gameplay or purchasable with Ore from the shop.
Now, let us share a tale of how at least one player complained that Gwent’s Keg opening is less flashy when compared to Hearthstone’s.
To make it clear, the flashy, crackling, celebratory effects associated with pack openings are meant to hook you up. They’re an integral part of any successful slot game, for instance.
It’s as odd as is expected that players will find this lack of excitement detrimental to the game.
We, however, have to commend Gwent for reducing its gambling elements.
Most collectible card games, both in physical and virtual forms, are about finding that rare card in one random pack.
Gwent does it. Hearthstone thrives from it. You’d only expect that the WWII-themed Kards will join the party.
The 5-card packs Kards has are purchasable with Gold – the in-game currency, from the shop.
And as generally is the case, you can throw some dollars at the game to sidestep the Gold-accruing process.
What can we say?
You can’t expect a card game without its packs. They are essentially a game of chance.
Roguebook is a charming roguelike deck-building game developed by Abrakam. Its release date is set for May of 2021.
Packs are a natural addition to entries in the card game genre, and needless to say, Roguebook has random 5-card Packs.
Now, we need to specify that Roguebook is a procedurally generated game.
Randomization and, consequently, luck are inherent parts of the gameplay. Thus, it’s only expected for the Packs to be present and function as they do.
The developers have done their best to distance the feature from other more questionable practices.
Here’s some proof: You open your pack and get five cards of varying rarity. If you don’t like the rarest card you got, you’re able to reroll for the chance of getting a more suitable one.
We know that before being addictive, Gambling is fun.
And Roguebook tries to conserve the entertainment attained from luck-based games while minimizing resulting risks.
A+ for Abrakam. We’re waiting for Roguebook’s release.
64. Magic: The Gathering Arena
The tabletop classic makes a return in virtual form, under the name Magic: The Gathering Arena.
And, as it changes medium, it also adapts to its new home’s ills: Card Packs.
There are two types: regular and draft Packs.
You either earn them weekly, during events, or you may purchase them.
The game has two parallel currencies: Gold, which you earn, and Gems, which you buy with real cash.
And trust us, packs are a lot easier to procure with Gems:
|1 pack||1000 Gold.|
|3 packs||600 Gems.|
|6 Packs||1200 Gems.|
|15 Packs||3000 Gems.|
|45 Packs||9000 Gems.|
|90 Packs||18000 Gems|
At least draft packs have a 5000 Gold cost for three pieces.
Be Aware: Regular packs have a timer ensuring that you get rarer cards after opening a certain number of cards.
Sports Betting, Now in Virtual Form
The FIFA series was the door opener for triple-A games to indulge in loot box functionalities.
Starting with FIFA 09, there was virtually no entry in the franchise that did not allow for players to buy card packs, both with real funds and in-game currency.
These reward you with a random assortment of football players available in the games.
With its 2021 entry chock-full with player card packs, FIFA shows no signs of hitting the brakes on the loot box functionality.
66. NBA Games
Sports games seem to be in love with loot boxes or packs, as they’re often called.
NBA titles show no shortage of purchasable items that give the player random drops.
In this instance, you get the MyTeam mode, where you assemble your own basketball team and maintain a trading card collection.
Note that you acquire the cards by different means, but one of the more important ones for the game’s economy are the random card packs.
67. PES Series
Like many games in its genre, PES provides a series of purchasable card packs with random rewards.
With similar entries in 2021, Konami shows no signs of renouncing the practice.
68. WWE 2K20
The wrestling world got its taste of gamification with WWE 2K20’s implementation of randomized drop packs.
You start with a small number of attires, fight moves, and entrances. The rest you get at random from packs that you procure with VC.
While putting you in a cycle of grinding and hoping for the rewards you desire, WWE 2K20, fortunately, doesn’t take your actual funds.
VC cannot be bought with real cash.
69. Rocket League
Remaining at cars but shifting genres, we have Rocket League, released in 2015 by Psyonix.
We love this title; the game is addictive in itself. That’s why it didn’t help that the game used to have its own loot crates. These would be opened with keys or decryptors and reward the player with a random exclusive item.
By 2019, however, Psyonix decided to move away from the practice and removed the system altogether.
Fun Fact: Players who still had purchased keys before their retiring were offered 1000 Credits as compensation.
When Racing Games Drove Full Tilt for Loot Boxes
70. Forza Motorsport 7
Forza Motorsport 7, released in 2017 by Microsoft Studios, confusingly is the tenth installment in the series.
By all means, the game was a decent racing game, garnering generally favourable reviews.
The issues loot boxes bring, however, are not only conceptual. James Davenport from PC GAMER said it best: Forza Motorsport 7’s poor loot box system almost distracts from the game’s many pros.
Tips: The follow-up entry Forza Horizon 4 eliminated loot box features. It also managed to receive better reviews, so you might pick it instead of its predecessor.
71. Asphalt 9: Legends
The worst thing a speed-fuelled racing game, like Asphalt 9: Legends, could have you do is waiting for that one car modification you need.
Gameloft’s 2018 videogame joined the random reward bandwagon with Daily Car Loot and Class Specific Cups.
You’ll need the blueprints to advance in the game, and while the Daily rewards guarantee you get a blueprint, the Class-Specific Cup ones are given at random.
At least you must win these randomized packs via races.
Still, we cannot imagine that race enthusiasts want to spend their time wagering and waiting for the right blueprints.
72. Need for Speed Payback
Need for Speed is almost eponymous with the racing games at large.
Its success came early, with Hot Pursuit 2 perfecting the arcade racing fundamentals, and from there, the franchise only went up.
And as is the case with most decade-spanning series, Need for Speed: Payback was marked by the advent of loot boxes in 2017.
Car customization is essential for NFS games.
And in Payback, customization depends on gamified random drop mechanics.
Now you can always grind your way through old races, again and again, to get all the mods you require in later stages.
But it’s a lot easier to buy them via microtransactions – talking about bad paybacks.
Did microtransactions ruin Need for Speed?
No, not yet. The subsequent series entry Need for Speed Heat eliminated the random drop feature.
Fighting Games’ Struggles with Loot Boxes
73. Marvel: Conquest of Champions
In the 2014 fighting game Marvel: Conquest of Champions, you may pay for sealed in-game items that contain characters from the extended comic book universe.
They’re called crystals but share all functionalities with other loot crate systems. They come in many flavours, from free to premium.
Unlocked characters and other perks actually give you an edge in fights. Plus, you never know which one you get.
Here’s an alliance crystal:
The crystals are meant to keep you returning to the game, that’s sure, but you may also find yourself spending money on them directly. At least they can’t be monetized, having only in-game value.
74. Street Fighter V
You wouldn’t think that fighter games are the place to find gambling-related practices.
And we also remember Street Fighter to be a straightforward deal.
That’s what made the franchise a classic.
Street Fighter V breaks the mould, however, with Fighting Chance.
The feature allows you to pay for Readings, which are equivalent to other loot boxes.
The random rewards are generally cosmetic or extra content. You also can get some consumables for Survival Mode.
Luckily, you can’t “wager” real money. Only Fight Money applies.
Fun Fact: Casino representation-wise, Street Fighter V has the High Roller Casino map, a reimagining of the Las Vegas stage from Street Fighter II.
75. Injustice 2
DC and Marvel may be competitors, but when it comes to loot-dropping models, they’re eager to shake hands.
Injustice 2 has had its fair share of criticism for random, and many times undesired received items.
Of course, a real-cash purchase was always an option.
You thought you bought a fighting game, but Injustice 2 packed a game of chance in there too.
Perhaps its name is fitting.
76. For Honor
For Honor caused some furor upon its appearance. Ubisoft surely cashed some large checks in as it was the best-selling game during the release week.
We won’t say that having Vikings fighting Samurais, medieval Knights, or legendary Chinese warriors is not fun.
We can’t ignore the game’s Scavenger Crates. You can get them as in-game rewards but buying them is an ever-present option.
Although not being so honourable, we’ve seen worse random reward systems. For Honor gets a pass.
Gacha Games: Japan’s Version to Hidden Gambling
What are Gacha Games?
Named after Japanese toy vending machines, they are video games that implement a similar randomized drop mechanic.
Here’s how they work:
- Add a large number of characters or items to your game.
- Only make a few immediately available.
- Implement a slot-like method for getting the rest of the content at random. A method that you pay for game money or its real-world counterpart.
The system is almost the same for all entries, with only some slight promotional differences.
Gacha games came under scrutiny many times for covertly promoting Gambling to underage audiences.
We found 45 entries.
Find them in our nine-category list:
How Your Favourite Shonen Adopted Gacha in its Game
77. Bleach: Brave Souls
Tite Kibo’s manga series has struggled in the past. Its anime series got discontinued, and its volume sales had reduced.
In 2016, however, players were met with Bleach: Brave Souls, a free-to-play brawler.
And inside this charming 3D title, those at KLabGames slid in a Gacha mechanic.
Slid in is putting it nicely. The feature is the main method to get new characters.
Following the tutorial, you’ll have a total of two Shinigami. The rest you have to get.
How do you acquire other Soul Reapers?
One way would be from the Store. During your play, you collect matches.
Try to accumulate as many as possible. You’ll have to wager them for random character drops.
78. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing
Let’s stay in Shonen territory with Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing.
Launched in 2016, it was the franchise’s first entry for IOS/Android users.
Ultimate Ninja Blazing was a turn-based action RPG where you controlled all the series’ memorable characters in strategic fights.
With six game-modes and a free-to-play model, the game easily reached 10 million downloads in one year.
Repetitive gameplay, however, was an issue, an issue you could supersede by in-app purchases.
Additionally, Ultimate Ninja Blazing’s Summons were essentially random drop gambling-like features.
You would procure these using the Premium currency or with Friend Points.
Now, let’s hope that real-life friendships amount to more than tokens for in-game slots. (or Sometimes you must lose in order to grow as Naruto would put it, but hopefully not your money on in-game slots)
79. One Piece Bounty Rush
Now for completing the Shonen triptych, we visit the One Piece universe with Bounty Rush.
The free-to-play mobile game is the lovechild of Bandai Namco, the One Piece series’ creator Eiichiro Oda, Toei Animation studio and Shueisha.
It had a rocky start, requiring a relaunch in 2020. Still, it proved successful as it reported over 20 million downloads in the same year.
You earn battles by holding at least three of the five treasures. These reward you with random items at the end.
You can view it as a battle for slots type of game.
Additionally, you acquire characters with the premium “Rainbow Diamonds” currency via Gacha type minigames.
80. One Piece Treasure Cruise
Treasure Cruise represents the previous mobile entry into the One Piece universe.
The game leaned more towards the RPG genre and had six-versus-six battles as opposed to four-versus-four.
Treasure Cruise would take you through the One Piece story arc presented in the manga.
Now for less stellar characteristics, it also featured over 1000 characters to summon and collect. This effectively makes it one of the biggest Gacha games out there.
The in-game store would also change chances for character drops at times, so comparing Treasure Cruise might be generous from the gambling fairness perspective.
Fun Fact: Treasure Cruise has been called an improved version of Brave Frontier.
81. Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle
Now we’re getting back to classics. Bandai Namco has been the provider for Dragon Ball Z games for a while on multiple platforms.
And they made a return in mobile form with 2015’s Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle.
The game is not the greatest, rather leaning on the puzzle features more than the iconic battles.
But, if it’s the memorable cast you wanted to revisit, you’re going to be satisfied…
…partially, as most characters you have to unlock, either via grinding or by wagering on Summons.
One Summon takes five dragon stones and gives you a random character.
You either earn the dragon stones, or you purchase them from the Store.
Be Aware: 2017 came with unfair gambling charges levied against the game. Players suspected that the game developers manipulated the new character Kefla’s drop rates to attract more revenue from users.
Who would’ve thought that getting a character in Dokkan Battle can be tougher than collecting the dragon balls themselves?
Popular JRPG Franchises That Joined the Gacha Trend
82. Pokémon Masters EX
Pokémon GO might’ve taken the spotlight, but remember that 2019 came with the launch of DeNA’s Pokémon Masters EX.
The game was a more straightforward experience: you would recruit Pokémon Trainers solely on the fictional island of Pasio and would play in three-on-three tournament battles.
But maybe it’s better that Pokémon Masters EX kept away from virtual reality. Otherwise, it would’ve filled you’re your augmented reality with gambling games. Here’s what we mean.
When going to the Shop, you can spend some Gems, the game’s premium currency, and wager in the Sync Pair Scout feature in the hope of getting a new Pokémon Master.
Be Aware: Masters EX has a pity system, where you accrue Scout Points for each Gacha gamble, and at some threshold, you can purchase any Master you desire. You would still spend $25, however.
83. Kingdom Hearts Union X
Don’t think that it’s only Nintendo that felt the sting of gambling-like mechanics.
Square Enix had to take down many titles for the same reasons.
Kingdom Hearts Union X was one of them.
And while we know that the game has many fans that are responsible adults, we also understand the appeal Kingdom Hearts has towards children.
Especially with all the many Disney characters present in the game.
84. Mobius Final Fantasy
Another title blacklisted in some countries is Square Enix’s Mobius Final Fantasy.
It’s really a shame since the game acquired some popularity, especially with the AAA-level graphics.
I know, we’re shocked too.
85. Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia
Opera Omnia had also been blacklisted from certain virtual markets.
Note that, despite being a free-to-play mobile game, Opera Omnia had a bundle that went up to $37.
86. Final Fantasy All the Bravest
If you want to accrue more than 30 heroes from the main series in Final Fantasy All the Bravest, you must engage in Gacha gambling.
A wager for a unit costs 99¢, but at least you don’t get doubles.
87. Final Fantasy Brave Exuvius
Final Fantasy Brave Exuvius has a complex lottery-like mechanic for getting non-story units.
You essentially bet certain types of tickets on different-tier Summons.
War of the Visions has several Gacha-game-type items available at the Mog Shop.
Additionally, Visiore packages may be bought with real currency, too.
88. Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation Dx2
If you know Persona, you’re also familiar with the Megami Tensei universe at large.
But did you know about Liberation DX2?
Released in early 2018 for Japan, and in July of the same year for other including Canadian markets, Liberation DX2 is a turn-based RPG developed jointly by Atlus and Sega.
Being a free-to-play game, it also features microtransactions, including the dreaded Gacha mechanics.
With an array of over 250 demons, you have more than enough units to recruit and summon.
Only that you have to do it via in-game Gambling.
Once you go through the lengthy and, may we mention, forced tutorial, promotional Gacha popups start harassing you.
The game looks nice. In some sense, it serves its purpose.
But if you’re a fan of the Megami Tensei franchise, the Gacha gambling-like additions will leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.
89. Sword Art Online: Integral Factor
Sword Art had to get a game. Appropriately, Sword Art Online: Integral Factor is an MMORPG based on the series.
The story follows that of the anime. You try to clear 100 floors of the Aincrad and level up your character.
While not a direct copy of the in-universe Sword Art Online VRMMO, the concept is good enough to prompt interest.
Its Shop mechanics, however, are no cause for joy. Here is where you spend your oh-so limited Arcana Gems on Skill or Avatar Orders.
And what do you get?
A random drop.
Can you even call it a Shop if it works like a slot casino?
Turn-Based RPGs and Cash-Based Gacha Games
90. Raid: Shadow Legends
If you’ve spent enough time on the internet, you surely got a glimpse of Raid: Shadow Legends’ polished ads.
Shadow Legends, a freemium game developed by the Israeli Plarium Games team, has you engaging in turn-based battles in the fictive land of Teleria.
Just from the looks, you would think the game differs from the Gacha genre at large.
The art style clearly is a breath of air for the game type. And it is impressive when it comes to mobile platforms.
The one aspect where Raid: Shadow Legends doesn’t break the mould is the Gacha mechanic.
How do you acquire heroes in Raid: Shadow Legends?
You guessed it: microtransactions. More specifically, you’ll wager purchasable in-game funds on Shards you use for summoning heroes.
There are four types: Mystery, Ancient, Void, and Sacred Shards.
Raid: Shadow Legends has its looks going for it. But once you scrape beneath the surface, you find the same covert gambling system.
91. Fate/Grand Order
Fate/Grand Order is a F2P mobile game published by Aniplex in 2017 to the availability of Canadian players.
Fun Fact: Fate/Grand Order surpassed both Fortnite and PUBG in download numbers.
It combines turn-based RPG mechanics with visual novel elements: you, the “Master,” control six “Servants” in a card game-type fight.
And Servants you get via Gacha gambling.
You played NieR, and you might’ve even played Drakengard. But their designer, Yoko Taro, returns with SINoALICE, an RPG for mobile devices.
The idea behind it is fun: you are in the Library, a place where Characters from several stories try to revive their author so that he may change their future.
How do they do it?
By fighting with Nightmares that consume stories.
Eventually, they will have to fight with each other to achieve their purpose.
Isn’t it enchanting? Yoko Taro outdid himself concept-wise, at least.
But there’s a whole other story when it comes to gameplay.
SINoALICE is excruciatingly grindy. And you hardly get the currency necessary for acquiring newer units.
Even worse so, since Characters are subject to the same randomized drop system, the genre is infamous for.
Additionally, several monthly Gacha have their own currency that stays locked to a specific month.
SINoALICE had the backing and concept of a good game. Sadly, here’s a case of another game being ruined by Gacha gambling.
93. Tokyo Afterschool Summoners
What did you do after school hours?
You probably didn’t control fantasy beings called transients in battles across a fictional Tokyo. Well, this is exactly the plot of Housamo.
Tokyo Afterschool Summoners is a F2P role-playing game with turn-based mechanics. It launched in 2016 for mobile platforms.
Fun Fact: Tokyo Afterschool Summoners is among the first commercially produced LGBT games from Japan. It also was a trailblazer in utilizing gay manga artwork.
Housamo functions like a card game: each character has a card with its stats while also evolving and receiving new abilities.
But when it comes to obtaining new cards, get ready to gamble.
You use five Transient Stones for a random character.
Wagering 50 Stones at once via multi-roll mechanics increases your chances and guarantees you get a ☆4 companion.
There are also event Gachas that come with modified pull rates and even exclusive drops.
94. Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World: Lost in Memories
Sega joined the mobile Gacha bandwagon with Lost in Memories in 2020.
The turn-based JRPG essentially is the retelling of the Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World anime series.
Summons is what Re:Zero calls its Gacha mechanic.
The system’s similar to many others: you bet your in-game currency for a random assortment of new characters with varying drop chance.
Be Aware: Similarly to Merc Storia, break open a Japanese book before playing Re:Zero, as there’s no English version in sight.
95. Granblue Fantasy
We have another entry from Cygames, in the form of the turn-based RPG Granblue Fantasy.
Same as previously, you wager tickets or crystals for random drops, including characters and items.
Be Aware: Following a stream where a player attempted to get Granblue Fantasy’s Andira by spending around $6000, the Japan Online Game Association started imposing harsher restrictions on such games. Subsequently, players would get their desired character instantly after 300 draws.
96. Another Eden
Another Eden is an RPG developed and published by Wright Flyer Studios. It launched in 2017 in Japan and 2019 worldwide.
The time-travelling adventure’s Encounters are essentially a Gacha variant.
97. Hortensia Saga
Hortensia Saga is f4Samurai and Sega’s joint project released in April 2015.
Fun Fact: Hortensia Saga also has running Manga and Anime series since 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The mobile F2P RPG, with its fantasy-themed characters and world, breaks the charm a bit with its Gacha-inspired random drop features.
98. Azur Lane
Azur Lane’s a side-scrolling shoot ’em up. It has you playing as anthropomorphic World War II warships, affectionately called ‘ship-girls’ in a co-op fight against AI enemies.
You can either build new ships or exchange medals for them. There’s a seven-ship rotation at all times. Normal ships change after 72 hours, while featured ones every 15 days.
Fun Fact: The game got both a manga adaptation in 2019 and an anime spinoff in 2018.
99. Kantai Collection
Kantai Collection is the second anthropomorphic warship-themed mobile game we talk about. We know, it’s weird.
Kadokawa’s free-to-play web browser became an instant success following its 2013 launch.
A certain amount of its popularity must originate from the fact that you’re not forced to spend real money to get the most out of the game.
Fun Fact: Kantai Collection sparked political debates due to its theme, with some praising its warlike unforgiving mechanics and some calling it revisionist. You read it right: a game about battleship-women caused political uproar.
Now, Kantai Collection has Gacha systems, but as we said, they’re not compulsory.
It seems that the developers are playing the long game, hoping to break even from merchandise and other franchise works, such as the spinoff manga, tabletop RPG and anime series.
100. Shachibato! President, It’s Time for Battle!
The F2P RPG, created by Kadokawa, Deluxe Games, and Preapp Partners, launched in 2019 in Japan for iOS and Android devices.
Fun Fact: An anime series adaptation created by C2C aired from April 5 to June 28, 2020.
You are the president in an alternate universe, and you recruit and train adventurers. You then dispatch them to fight into dungeons where they fight monsters and collect rewards.
And how would you acquire the adventurers?
Gacha, as always. You would wager funds for new random units.
Be Aware: The game was discontinued in 2020 but got a sequel in the form of Maju War. The latter has no Gacha mechanics, developers opting for plain paid DLC.
101. Magia Record
The 2019 mobile RPG Magia Record is a spinoff of the 2011 anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magika.
Magia Record has a “Fate Weave” mechanic where you spend your in-game currency for a random character drop.
Virtual Gambling in Real-Time RPGs
102. Brave Frontier
Brave Frontier, a mobile RPG from A-Lim, launched in 2013.
You might recognize the gameplay model: you team up with a friend, bring in some units, and defeat waves of enemies until you get to the boss.
You’ll collect Brave Burst Crystals and Heart Crystals.
Fortunately, Brave Frontier 2 eliminated Gacha game reward mechanics.
103. Dragalia Lost
Nintendo published Dragalia Lost, an action JRPG for mobile platforms, in 2018.
Despite mixed reviews, it grossed over $100 million as of 2019.
We understand the appeal. It has crossovers with multiple successful series, like Fire Emblem, Mega Man and Monster Hunter. It also features both single and multiplayer features.
But just so you know, the game also implements Gacha-type systems in the form of Summon Showcases.
You get these with in-game currency. Currency you can also buy.
Tips: Dragalia Lost will generally reward you up to ten Gacha tickets with every major update. Plus, you earn some currency from daily rewards and grinding. You can get a five-star drop like this, so you don’t need to spend a dollar.
Ok, it is Gambling, we concede, but at least Dragalia Lost gives you the chance of not losing a dollar during gameplay.
104. Action Taimanin
A free-to-play 3D RPG developed by Gremory Games, Action Taimanin, was published in 2019 in Japan.
The game has you fighting demons, retrieving bioweapons and getting skins via its Gacha mechanic.
105. Genshin Impact
You can unlock five additional characters by playing through the story missions of Genshin Impact.
If you want more than that, pull out your wallet.
Genshin Impact allows you to purchase several in-game monies with real funds. Monies which you wager on randomized Gacha systems.
Genshin Impact is a well-made game, by all means. It’s at the top of mobile games quality-wise.
But should we get over the gambling element that is usually tied to F2P games?
Many players certainly don’t. And similarly, we feel the feel the need to draw your attention to it in the least.
106. Merc Storia
Merc Storia is a F2P fantasy RPG from Happy Elements, launched in 2014.
The game implemented a feature called Medal Exchange. Hence you do what the name says:
You exchange Medals, an in-game currency, for units via Medal or Monster Lotteries. Now that’s a bit on the nose.
Be Aware: Merc Storia doesn’t have an English patch yet. So, we recommend Canadian players that want to try it to brush up on some Japanese language basics.
Would it be Gambling just from the name?
No. But the underlying system clearly is Gambling.
107. White Cat Project
A free-to-play action RPG, the game launched in 2014 for iOS/Android devices.
Fun Fact: White Cat Project earned “Best Game of 2014”, “Best iPad Game” in the same year, as well as the “Excellence” Famitsu awards in 2014 and 2015.
White Cat Project has a lot going for itself. You surely have something to spend your time on, from lore-filled single-player to co-op multiplayer and even a town-building mode.
Be sure that you won’t waste your time, however. The game doesn’t have a stamina system.
Getting new characters, though, will be a struggle. In White Cat Project, you spend Runes for the chance of a random character drop.
Maybe it was the inception of Gacha systems, but White Cat Project’s implementation is one of the friendlier types. Good job, Colopl.
108. Identity V
Do you like Tim Burton’s films?
Then you might want to check Identity V, an asymmetrical multiplayer horror game released in 2018 by NetEase Games.
You’ll be in detective Orpheus’s shoes, who’s trying to unravel murder mysteries within a manor.
Fun Fact: The game series has had crossovers with Danganronpa, Persona, and The Promised Neverland universes, as well as with characters from the Edward Scissorhands film.
You are probably already enchanted by the charming style. Unfortunately, only a few characters are available at first.
You generally will unlock new ones by discovering Clues.
The Logic Path system also has you earning Clues and Essences by rolling dice. You get dice by winning matches.
Clues are straightforward, but Essences have a prize pool of their own.
So, after gambling with the dice feature, you wager once more in a Gacha-gambling type of function.
109. Princess Connect! Re:Dive
Cygames also brought us Princess Connect Re:Dive. The game initially launched in 2018, but Canadian players could only access it as of January 2021.
The game is a real-time action JPRG where you go through various quests and activities, including PvP battles, with a party of up to five members.
As the rule goes for such titles, new characters are locked behind a random drop mechanic modelled after Gacha machines.
You also have the option of getting them through Memory Pieces specific to each unit, but it only works for non-exclusive characters.
Luckily, as is the case for Cygames titles, the system, although gamified, is not as predatory. You have Regular Gacha, that’s free.
For Premium Gacha, you play Jewels that you earn during playtime.
Focus Gacha is a variant for time-dependent offers.
The last are the Jumpstart Gacha. These are meant to upstart you.
They are available for seven days from starting the game and cost real money, which you exchange into Premium Jewels.
Jumpstart Gacha also have a pity system for ten draws.
110. Honkai Impact 3rd
In miHoYo’s Honkai Impact 3rd you control a team of three “Valkyries” in a fight against various enemies.
Each Valkyrie has its own set of abilities and traits, as well as balanced game roles.
You either craft new equipment or Stigmata, weapons and units or gamble on Gacha features.
111. The King of Fighters All Star
The King of Fighters All Star launched in 2018 in Japan and 2019 for others, including Canadian gamers.
The beat ’em up RPG from Netmarble Games allows you to pick any character from the KOF universe.
There are instances, however, when certain characters are available for limited times. These are claimable solely through Summons, i.e., a Gacha gambling system.
The game is playable without it, however, so no issues here.
Rhythm Games: Dancing to the Beat of Gacha Drums
112. BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!
The BanG Dream! multimedia franchise added a video game to the flurry of related projects in 2017.
BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! is a rhythm game released for IOS and Android devices.
The game garners several Gacha offers: Main, Type, ★3+ Ticket Gacha, Special Set, Dream Festival, 4★ Guaranteed Gacha, and Miracle Ticket Gacha.
They all come with different tier character pools.
113. D4DJ Groovy Mix
As was the case with BanG Dream!, the D4Dj franchise got its own free-to-play rhythm game in 2020 in Japan.
You’ll get to play it starting from 2021, as Bushiroad announced an English patch.
The game is chock full of gambling features.
Gacha mechanics will be the way you obtain new characters.
114. Love Live! School Idol Festival
LLSIF is a rhythm game from KLabGames for IOS and Android platforms. It appeared in 2013 in Japan while being available to Canadian players starting from 2014.
A spinoff All Stars game was also released in 2020.
These feature characters from the Love Live! multimedia project and have you sync circle tapping to the music.
You also form a nine-character team. The units are called members. You acquire them either by doing Live rounds or by “Student Scouting.”
This function was effectively modelled after Gacha-gambling systems. So, School Idol Festival is nothing to idolize.
Be Aware: D4DJ also has two other gambling-related Events: Poker and Bingo.
Their rules are identical to their real-life counterparts, while the prizes are solely game items.
Social Network Games: Log-In to Pay-In
115. Dragon Collection
And while we’re at dragons and collections, let’s talk about Konami’s social network game, Dragon Collection.
Fun Fact: The game’s success resulted in a Manga adaptation and an Anime series, and several sequels.
Released in 2010 on GREE, a Japanese social platform, Dragon Collection made history.
Essentially a card battler, you use cute and colourful characters in quests and events.
But how would you get more units?
Konami’s answer was wagering on Gacha-like Chests. The method was novel at the time.
You didn’t want to grind for the next Chest?
Don’t worry, Konami said, you can always purchase more.
The system worked, and it shows.
Some consider Dragon Collection to be among the trailblazers of the Gacha game genre. Whether it was or not, it surely changed the market of free-to-play mobile games.
116. Uma Musume Pretty Derby
Another Cygames entry, but who even keeps count?
Let’s call Uma Musume Pretty Derby a sports game. Its plot follows the story of horse girls: reborn human forms of great racehorses.
A bit weird?
Story-wise, yes. But when it comes to Gacha mechanics, you encounter the same old story.
We don’t want to beat a dead horse, so here are the essentials.
There are many race girls you can acquire. To do so, you bet in-game funds and get a random drop.
A really basic mechanic for a really weird game.
Strategy Games: Not about Tactics Anymore
117. Girls’ Frontline
In MICA Games’ Girls’ Frontline, you procure T-Girls via Gacha mechanics.
You may obtain components and resources via post-battle drops. These you then employ in acquiring T-Girls through Gacha-gambling mechanics.
The amounts of resources affect bet probabilities, but essentially, obtaining units remains a game of chance.
118. Last Period
Team up with Periods and fight the Spirals in the mobile RPG strategy game developed by Happy Elements K.K.
Last Period has a call function where you spend Luna Stones to summon and get new points.
It’s essentially a gambling game, although your chances for better drops you may raise through deals.
Puzzle Games: Is Gacha the Missing Jigsaw Piece?
119. Puzzle & Dragons
Now we’re treading dangerous ground.
If you’re a gambling aficionado, you may recognize Puzzle & Dragons’ description:
It is a match-three puzzle game, having you move and match orbs in a grid.
Even the interface is divided into an RPG-like setting and something resembling gambling games.
Just to add to the issue, Puzzles & Dragons also has Gacha features.
Arknights is a single-player puzzle game.
For each level, you get units for fighting the incoming enemies via a Gacha mechanic.
Luckily, you don’t always require rare-dropping characters to go through the game.
Additionally, the single-player system alleviates some of the pressure to get newer and better units.
121. Monster Strike
Monster Strike is an impressive mix of puzzle-solving, strategy and co-op, a JRPG developed by XFLAG for mobile platforms.
Fun Fact: Monster Strike was created by Capcom designer Yoshiki Okamoto, the designer behind the classic Street Fighter II and the highest-grossing mobile app Puzzle & Dragons.
And you can be sure that Okamoto repacked the infamous Gacha system into his newer game.
Monster Strike has Hatchers. As you can figure, units’ hatch’ randomly through this feature.
Monster Strike’s Hatchers deserve a whole list for themselves. Their announcements also have a slots-on-steroids look to them.
They come in Normal, Exclusive or Collaboration variants.
The last category includes characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Street Fighter, YuYu Hakusho, among many others.
There are tons of characters to get in Monster Strike, many with a weight to their name.
And all obtainable via the Gacha game feature.
Kart Racing: A Different Type of Item Box
122. Mario Kart Tour
The classic, the legend, Mario Kart Tour, made an appearance in mobile form in 2019.
We love some arcade racing, especially since Nintendo makes sure to add a whole lot of content in biweekly updates.
What we don’t necessarily enjoy is the gamified, edging-on Gambling, Gacha system the developer decided to add to an overall decent entry in the franchise.
And we’re not alone in this piece of criticism. We really are not.
Never mind the $4.99 subscription fee and all the time-locked content.
Now, you can get some of your favourites from the in-game store, but Gacha remains the basis for new racers.
Don’t you hate it when Gambling gets shoved into your childhood favourite?
The One Special Case
123. The Case Opening Sites
Here’s an oddity you won’t find a lot of info on.
What are case opening sites?
These are online platforms that utilize loot box features from several games. Here’s the idea:
For many esports games, cases are earnable through gameplay. But you can also purchase them with funds.
These generally work like slots in themselves. For some players, the game is a preamble for this type of Gambling. The Case opening sites represent an aggregator for these loot boxes.
What do case opening sites do?
They provide you with the option of directly wagering on opening random drop crates. For a monetary cost.
We do not pull at strings when we say that these websites seem to be modelled after slots’ muddled look, psychological triggers galore.
And it goes beyond. You would choose your case and wager real money for a drop.
But, you always get something in return, you might say.
True. However, most weapon skins have a value of a few cents.
Also, remember that the issue at hand is that these websites mimic gambling websites to a tee.
What Games do case opening sites use?
Many games could become the breeding ground for such platforms. It is due to their in-game mechanics. However, case opening sites mainly base themselves around popular entries.
Here are some examples:
- CS:GO is by far the most popular choice and one of the first games to get such spinoff sites. Some examples are CS:GO Live, Skin Club, Datdrop, or Hellcase.
- DOTA 2 has some case opening sites, like ForceDOTA or MyDOTA2, created around it. The system is similar.
- Team Fortress 2, another of Valve’s properties, got the same treatment with websites like Unboxer.tf or dmarket.com.
- Rust has some entries, including dmarket.com.
Case opening site examples are countless since they’re ephemerally appearing on and disappearing off the internet.
Are case opening sites legal?
Barely. Loot boxes are not recognized as Gambling in all jurisdictions, and thus neither do these platforms. Therefore, they don’t require any regulation.
If you skim through the Terms and Conditions, you will find assurances that the sites are fair in their practices.
This need not be the case.
They do not offer the trustworthy warranties, despite resembling how casinos work. Our in-depth article should describe how a legitimate online gambling facility functions.
You can take their tendency to close after a short functioning time as proof of just that.
What are the dangers of these sites?
These websites require you to log in solely with your steam account. This is not a valid KYC measure by any means.
That’s why players, especially underage ones, are at risk of developing a taste for Gambling via these platforms.
You do not need to go to a brick-and-mortar casino to develop an addiction to chance-based games.
No matter what its origin is, a gambling addiction proves destructive for you and your close ones’ lives.
That’s why you should learn how to recognize it in due time with the help of experts in the field.
What Info Should You Leave With?
Video games are growing up, people. We have to face it.
And as they do, they start making odd bedfellows with gambling practices.
What’s the risk?
It’s fair. Most of the entries we included are geared towards the +18 video game market.
Responsible adults can, of course, do as they wish, as long as they are well-informed, despite them still being susceptible to negative consequences.
And it could be that game purchases of virtual items directly or via a randomized reward system boost the gaming experience.
But let us not ignore one of the glaring issues of these business models.
Frankly, exposure to gaming should not introduce children to Gambling.
Are all games that do this automatically bad or dishonest?
No, we don’t claim that. But, as experts, we can bring our knowledge from the field of Gambling and inform you thoroughly regarding any questionable practice.
Are there better options?
Chances are that, as a responsible adult, you might just like real-money gaming, and that’s understandable.
But let’s be honest, in such a case we provide a better option in the form of top online casino gaming platforms. These are cream of the crop websites overlooked by regulatory authorities that prove the best-fitting model for such game spending.
More than just respecting the Gambling legislation, these online casinos do not blur the lines when it comes to the relationship between gaming and actual wagering.
Did we miss any possible entries?
We did our best to give a definitive list. However, the gaming market is a fast-moving one, so chances are that new entries will be required.
That’s why we’ll keep updating the record. Make sure to check back in.
Games are not outliers when it comes to Gambling. Many artforms dipped their toes in the subject, movies being a notable example.
Make sure to keep yourself informed and to keep on playing responsibly.
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