Pay-to-win gaming, also known as “freemium” gaming, is a business model used by many games where players can download and play the game for free, but are encouraged to spend real money in order to advance faster or gain a competitive advantage. This can include purchasing in-game currency or items that would otherwise take a long time to acquire through gameplay.
During his presentation at the Ruhr University Bochum’s Gambling research division GLUEG to a group of specialists and experts in the field of gambling, our co-founder Fred Steinmetz shared research from a paper that he led which examined the interrelation between pay-to-win gaming and gambling. The paper can be found here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10899-021-10042-1.
The research team that worked on this paper included scientists with extensive experience in gambling research. This experience allowed the authors unique insights into the similarities and differences between pay-to-win gaming and traditional gambling activities.
One of the key findings of our research is that pay-to-win gaming can share many similarities with gambling, particularly in terms of the ways in which the game design can encourage players to spend more money. For example, some pay-to-win games use reward systems that mimic slot machines, where players are given random rewards that can be of varying value. This can create a sense of anticipation and excitement, which can encourage players to spend more money in order to continue playing.
We also found that pay-to-win gaming can be particularly problematic for individuals who are prone to problem gambling, as it can be difficult for them to hinder the transfer of harmful behavior onto the other game form. This can lead to excessive spending and other negative consequences.
In conclusion, our research highlights the need for greater awareness and regulation of pay-to-win gaming and its interrelation with gambling. It also underscores the importance of understanding how emerging technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies may impact these activities in the future. While we continue to explore the connections between these areas at the Blockchain Research Lab, it will be essential to prioritize responsible gaming practices and ensure that individuals are protected from harm.
Feel free to reach out to Fred Steinmetz to learn more about this topic.
Study: Pay-to-win gaming and its interrelation with gambling: Findings from a representative population sample. Steinmetz, F., Fiedler, I., von Meduna, M., & Ante, L. (2022). Journal of Gambling Studies, 38(3), 785-816. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-021-10042-1
About the event [German]: https://glueg.org/blog/428-pay-to-win-gaming