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Incentive Mechanics in Gaming and iGaming – Why are they Becoming the Norm?

If you’ve played online casino games or a major AAA video game recently, then chances are that you’ve run into some kind of incentive mechanics. Taking many forms, the success of these systems has reshaped the gaming and iGaming industries, and this pattern is only growing more pronounced. Looking at some of the biggest examples from both sides of the gaming coin, we want to explore where these mechanics came from, what made them so popular, and why they’ll only become more common in the future.

The Origins of Incentives

In a chronological sense, the earliest forms of incentive mechanics undoubtedly came from betting, long before the advent of video games. This was seen in the creation of the slots jackpot, which had a chance of paying out well above the usual wins a game could offer. The more somebody played, the greater their chances would be to win, and combined with the advent of growing progressive jackpots, this quickly became a major pull.


Fruit Machine” (CC BY 2.0) by garryknight

In the Modern Age

This pull remains a backbone in the online gambling industry, and from a far wider number of games, not just traditional slots. Now, players can try their luck to win a bingo jackpot, for example, which was never available in the early forms of the game. Having made its way to a significant proportion of the iGaming industry with games such as Wonder of Ages, Jewel Scarabs, and Masquerade, newer jackpots continue to grow in value and scope. 

Working from this understanding, traditional video games borrowed heavily from casino inspired incentive mechanics. This is most commonly seen in online games, where sustained engagement forms the backbone of continued operation. It should be noted, however, that while gaming does borrow from iGaming on this front, it has walked its own path.

Most often, these forms of incentives take the shape of seasonal or weekend promotions, like those seen in Overwatch events. These events typically offer new game modes that can be played only for a limited time, giving players a chance to enjoy a new twist on an old formula. These events also give cosmetic items, which can be permanently acquired from temporary promotions.

These seasonal rewards can also draw attention back to regular non-seasonal play. In a game like Overwatch, in-game currency is earned while playing regularly and leveling up. This currency can then be saved to purchase event items which were not randomly won during event play. Combined, these reward mechanics encourages engagement both within seasonal play and during regular hours.


Witch Mercy” (Public Domain) by Le6barbare

Future Incentives

Modern gaming has increasingly embraced the idea of games as a service. This means that rather than having games simply seeing release, after which the developers move onto a new project, a game is often supported for months or years with new content. By keeping players engaged more attention is placed on a property, the better it performs, and more likely a future entry is to succeed. Because of these factors, and their current success, incentive mechanics are only going to become more popular.

For the originators of incentive mechanics, the betting industry, incentive mechanics will not only remain at the forefront, but they could also grow. The iGaming industry is one that has been long experiencing consistent growth, and with this growth comes the possibility for even bigger jackpots.

Whatever form of modern gaming takes your fancy, rest assured that catering to continual play seems to be a bigger concern than ever before. With the next generation of consoles around the corner, and more players involved every day, the best could still be yet to come.

Written by S Dionne

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