Casinos seem like the perfect setting for an exciting video game. The roar of the crowds, the clatter of roulette balls landing, the patter of the dealers…these are all great reasons to set a game within a casino environment. Despite this, there just aren’t that many great casino games out there. While you can always get your fill if you want to play some quick casino favourites or to enjoy some casino-style slot machines, the amount of deeper, more narrative-focused casino games is too low. Here’s our analysis of what a great casino game should look like and why there might not be too many out there.
Some casino games, like Prominence Poker, do have story modes, but for the most part, casino games don’t have deep, involved narratives. This is odd to us, because many of the best casino and gambling movies out there have rich storylines. Movies like Ocean’s Eleven and Martin Scorsese’s Casino tell complex, interwoven stories, so why can’t video games do the same?
In our ideal casino game, we’d cast the player as a gambler freshly arrived in Vegas. Quickly, the player is drawn into the seedy Vegas underworld and forced to navigate a landscape of double-dealings, crime, and intrigue. Along the way, you’d be able to play a series of casino favourites, as well as engaging in more traditional action-adventure gameplay. There’s a niche a mile wide for games like this!
If you’re looking for great online casino games, then you can always visit sites like Hyperino, on which you’ll find a huge variety of slot machines with great payouts and bonuses. However, in a video game, the thrill of potentially being able to win real money is lost, so the gameplay needs to be much deeper as a result. Casino sims should, therefore, focus on accuracy, but also on fun.
Again, in our ideal casino game, the gameplay would revolve not only around casino favourites but also around something else, preferably Grand Theft Auto-style open-world sandbox exploration. By casting the player as a low-level gambler working their way up to the high stakes table, the game could facilitate all manner of different gameplay styles.
There are games out there that let you manage your own casino, but they’re usually nowhere near as in-depth or involved as we’d want them to be. What we want is a casino sim with complexity akin to something like Cities: Skylines or even RimWorld; a game we could really sink our teeth into. Casino management is a huge wellspring of untapped potential for casino gaming.
Here’s how our casino management sim would work. You take control of a failing casino, perhaps on the Vegas strip (or maybe you would need to work your way up to Vegas). It’s up to you to turn that casino’s fortunes around by hiring the right staff, implementing the right games, and generally running the casino properly. There could even be a story mode with a similar narrative to the one we outlined above.
Right now, the only social casino MMO that we can think of is The Four Kings Casino and Slots. There may be others, but the point is that they don’t have a prominent position in the gaming world. Again, this seems like a huge missed opportunity to us; one of the biggest joys that’s lost in online casino gaming is the ability to interact with other gamblers and enjoy games together in person.
So, how would we build a casino MMO? Well, first off, we’d implement a number of casino favourites like blackjack, poker, and slots. We’d build a rich, interactive casino environment in which you could both play these games and also explore the casino as a whole. It could even be fun if there was a storyline running alongside the MMO element, one in which you complete quests to learn the truth of what’s going on behind the scenes in the casino.
Why aren’t developers making these games?
The main reason that developers aren’t making more great casino games is, it seems to us, the lack of the ability to play with real money. Gambling is heavily regulated by many governments around the world, and so it’s very difficult to implement real-money gambling systems into video games. Loot boxes and gacha mechanics are as close as most developers will come, and even those are being scrutinised heavily now.
Since the main appeal of casino gaming is, for many people, playing with real money, it’s unlikely that there’s going to be a huge boom in narrative-based casino games. The closest we’re going to get would be titles like Grand Theft Auto V, which contains a fully-functioning casino in the form of the Diamond Casino & Resort. Don’t expect to see developers making a commitment to casino gaming en masse in future.
In conclusion, we think it’s a real shame that more in-depth and thorough casino games don’t seem to be on most developers’ radars right now. The casino is a rich setting full of potential for a narrative game, and even if you don’t want to tell a conventional story of the criminal underworld, you could opt for the rags-to-riches tale of a gambler who must play in order to win enough money to fulfil some personal or emotional goal. If you’re a developer and you’re reading this right now, don’t wait – capitalise on the casino gaming niche and make us some great casino games!