Social games – Despite being a very broad concept that continually evolves and expands, social gaming can still be defined fairly accurately by most consumers. We use this term to describe simple, casual games available on social networks or app stores. Appearing soon after social platforms launched, they quickly became one of the most popular forms of gaming, enjoyed by all generations of players around the world. They are readily available, easy to use and free, or at least most basic editions do not cost any money to install and play.

In addition to these advantages, they cater to our competitive instincts and the desire to interact with other people in fun, innovative ways. Although many will argue that players tend to spend too much time on these applications, we generally consider social games harmless. However, there is one particular type that has been stirring up a lot of controversy over the last few years. A relatively recent category, it is a social game to which certain gambling components are added and the approach is now known as “gamblification”.

Social Games And the Gamblification

Social games

The Thin Line Between Legal and Illegal

Although several years have passed since its introduction, gamblification is still largely unfamiliar in the gambling community and the trend it represents not yet fully acknowledged.  The games of this type are not being referred to or advertised as such.  Outwardly, they appear to be “pretend” gamble games, with some even emulating the mechanics of slot machines, poker or bingo. They use virtual currency that has no real value and cannot be exchanged for anything of real value, and usually boast huge RTP percentages to increase the fun factor involved considerably. Which, in itself, is not a problem – many specialized portals offer real casino games in fun mode that we can play absolutely for free and without risks. However, gamblification products come with a finite amount of virtual currency that eventually depletes, preventing further play or halting the progress that we have invested time and effort to achieve. When this happens, players have the option to buy more in-game currency in exchange for real money, to keep playing the game without any prospect of winning.

Addiction Concerns

The feeling of satisfaction aside, there is nothing to gain from these types of games, and yet, they do require real cash at some point in the gameplay. This element is often not obvious from the get-go, and that is why many in the gaming community consider this trend problematic and a cause for concern, given the obvious implications. While we can argue that what an adult individual does with their money is nobody’s business as long as it remains within legal bounds, the fact is that gamblification games are specifically designed to get the easily susceptible among us hooked and willing to spend money so that we can gratify our basic instincts.

Another negative aspect is that minors can just as easily access the sites hosting gamblification games. Most of them do not have adequate age checks implemented and show no real effort to prevent virtual currency purchases made by minors. Curiously, a vast majority of such platforms operate perfectly legally in the jurisdictions they are based in, and also have terms and conditions carefully outlined to ensure they are not implicated in or prosecuted for soliciting underage players.

Issues to Address

Gambling will likely forever remain a hugely divisive subject due to its very nature. Betting real money on games of chance carries certain risks and it is precisely the reason why the necessary laws and regulations are being introduced globally to make it a fair and transparent activity. Even though the term may be used interchangeably with “gaming,” we all know the difference, and that difference should always be made evident.

If we disregard the play on words, gamblification games function on the same fundamental principles as real casino games, and should be viewed as such, both in layman and legal terms. Because the trend is new, the majority of social gamers are not familiar with it and consumers are not entirely aware of the consequences. In time, hopefully, measures will be taken to ensure that gamblification platforms adopt adequate age verification procedures, in addition to disclosing the actual nature of the social games in advance.