When most people think about casino games within video games, their mind jumps straight to GTA: San Andreas or series like NBA 2K, which have incorporated a large number of minigames. Over the years, more and more developers have turned to casino games to leverage users into microtransactions.
The response hasn’t been great, to say the least. However, other developers have utilized traditional gaming in order to elevate the narrative and gameplay experience. In some cases, like Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad game, games were invented by creators to add an extra worldbuilding element. In other cases, like Luigi’s Casino in Super Mario 64, games were added purely for fun.
When well placed, these games complement the existing structure and goal of a game. They also reflect current market trends, as betting online has taken off across the US in recent years. Historically, only brick-and-mortar casino-goers would know how to play blackjack or video slots, but the industry has become more familiar to most consumers.
In fact, strategic card games have become so popular that developers of New Fallout: Vegas and The Witcher 3 opted to create their own games in Caravan and Gwent, respectively. Let’s take a closer look at three of the best card game integrations in modern video games.
Red Dead Redemption
Poker is interwoven throughout the Red Dead Redemption story. Players are notified about an early game via poker chips, which appear on their map, and can choose to participate at their leisure.
The game requires a $10 buy-in (not a microtransaction), which can be leveraged into winnings that open up further in-game opportunities for the player. Unlike similar attempts in other video games, Red Dead Redemption’s saloons emulate real play.
Those who sit down at the table can quit at any time—and many do, as games aren’t played on a shortened timeline or with shortened rules. The features proved so popular that they were incorporated into Red Dead Redemption 2.
Fallout: New Vegas
Developers went above and beyond in tying Caravan into the New Vegas world. The rules are simple; outbid an opponent by staying someplace above 21 and below 26 in terms of card value. To play (and win) Caravan, players must first acquire the cards (known as ‘caravans’ in the game).
The game event provides trophies to high achieves, hilariously titled ‘Know When to Hold Them’ and ‘Know When to Fold Them’ in honor of Kenny Roger’s song, The Gambler. Caravan has become so popular amongst Fallout fans that there are chatrooms and threads dedicated to exploring in-game challenges and helpful hints.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
As one of the most highly rated games of 2015, developers of The Witcher 3 hit it out of the park with numerous features, from its fantasy setting to characters to world-building. unsurprisingly, one killer aspect of the game was Gwent.
Similar to Fallout, players could slowly develop their Gwent deck of cards. In order to complete certain side quests or open up new ones, players had to develop their Gwent skills. To win at Gwent, they must win two out of three rounds using cards and leader abilities and values.
Gwent became a fan favorite because it was considered winnable. Though Caravan has helped solidify Fallout as a favorite for critics and gamers, the invented card game was considered prohibitively difficult by some. Gwent, on the other hand, placed more emphasis on building a strong deck rather than developing card game strategy.