Taking a gamble: the rise of casino influence on modern video games

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Game developers and gaming fans everywhere are eagerly anticipating the re-release of Grand Theft Auto V, which is set to hit the shelves from this fall.

The game will be fully functional on Microsoft and Sony’s respective Xbox One and PlayStation 4 models, and will also feature a number of modifications and improvements which could enhance the already vast landmass offered to us by Rockstar.

One “hack” that is rumored to be available to us is a pass into the Vinewood Casino, which, until now, could only be viewed from the outside. While Rockstar has not confirmed this, it could open a whole new chapter in the Grand Theft Auto series.

Emulating the modern casino environment has not been lost on games developers previously; for example, when PlayStation released 3D social gaming platform PlayStation Home in 2008, one of the areas available to our custom-built avatars was a fully functional casino.

Later, the critically acclaimed Red Dead Redemption, released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010, would go on to offer players the chance to play blackjack and poker.

With popular characters now making their mark on a number of industries including online gambling, we could see these console games incorporated into a number of online games such as online slot machines. This has already proven hugely successful with the Marvel franchise, and could be even bigger as time goes by.

Of course, as yet these popular console games have not given users the chance to win real money, which could be deemed surprising given the increasing popularity of online casino games today. With the wealth of smartphones and wireless internet available to us, online gambling is becoming more commonplace amongst modern gamers, who have the added appeal of winning money while still immersing themselves in a casino environment.

However, legislation could be a huge obstacle for Sony and Microsoft if they are to implement paid casino games into their latest products. While add ons like Xbox Marketplace give players the chance to make purchases on their consoles, online gambling is controversial in the United States, and as yet is only legal in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Microsoft and Sony would do well then to follow in the footsteps of former video games console superstar Atari, which is planning on making a comeback this year via the medium of “social gambling”. Users will be given the chance to play their favorite casino games with virtual money, which could be a unique selling point for the former video gaming giant.

Indeed, if Xbox and PlayStation games are doing so well with the current casino elements implemented within them, there’s no reason why game manufacturers can’t go one step further and try to work around the legal obstacles to embrace online gambling. For now however, we’re just looking forward to being able to try our luck in the potential GTA V casino.

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