Gambling and skill are mutually exclusive

Bhagpuss has a post about how many GW2 features involves gambling. Not with real money, but with in-game items. This made it clear that the recent lootbox explosion in games is just a tip of the iceberg and not the problem itself.

The problem is gambling is mutually exclusive with skill. Can you imagine if in basketball you get the ball into the hoop and then the some roll is made to decide how many points you get? Or that the 100m running is actually something between 90 and 110 m for every contestant based on rolls? These are bizarre. Then why is it OK that you get gear upgrades or damage based on rolls in video games.

To end this nonsense, we can’t just stop at P2W lootboxes. We must eliminate all kinds of RNG from games, making skill and effort the only things deciding outcome. Yes, I mean that fireballs should have the exact same damage and there shouldn’t be random critical hits (there can be consequent critical hits, like instead of 10% chance, every 10th fireball crits). There shouldn’t be random boss drops. Bosses and all mobs should always drop the same things, practically currency that you can use to buy gear. It cannot stand that one guy gears up on one raid and the other doesn’t get anything for 2 raids. This applies to PUBG loot. It’s a very different game if I find SK12 in the first house or only sniper rifles and pistols after 10 houses. House spawn points should give weapon and equipment currency that you can use to buy or “craft” the items you want.

It doesn’t mean that some elements cannot be random, but the randomness must occur before the player makes the effort and not after. So randomly generated maps are OK, if you don’t like the one you get, you don’t play. This should go for the PUBG circle too. The circle placement, vehicles and plane path should be known at the preparation phase of the game and if you don’t like it, you can quit without rating loss. Similarly you should be able to get out of random matchmaking without penalty in LoL if you don’t like the teammates the RNG gave you. And random mobs can have RNG loot, but it should be known to everyone who sees them before he engages.

If we want video games to be more than glorified slot machines, we must get rid of every RNG affecting X after the point where the player decides “yes, I want to do X”. Otherwise we slide down on the slippery slope to paid lootboxes.

Author: Gevlon

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25 thoughts on “Gambling and skill are mutually exclusive”

  1. Yes. And it would be the end of many genres of games as we know them. The only way to make the losers win sometimes is by introducing randomness. If they never win, they never play and the game dies out as there is always a better player left and game studio’s won’t cater to games with very few players. Skill still floats to the top in the end, as long as the game is not 100% chance. Just like poker vs roulette.


  2. Hmm interesting, I think that removing random drops steals a bit from game play. Example I pop 2 bil shuttle I shouldn’t know the exact value of the “drop”. Your method would be tantamount to removing “risk” from the game. Same example different ship (a hauler): If I know the value of the drop it determines weather I take the chance or not. If the hauler knows the value of the drop they will adjust accordingly and simply make sure they carry stuff at a level that makes shooting them pointless. So in terms of game play I don’t like the idea of removing what may or may not be the reward for killing you.


  3. “The circle placement, vehicles and plane path should be known at the preparation phase of the game and if you don’t like it, you can quit without rating loss.”
    In that case wouldn’t the optimal strategy be to only accept games where you have the best starting position? Then, everyone else leaves the game because they do not accept their suboptimal starting position -> you win the game, but you haven’t played a game. Decisions where one option is strictly better than the other are not really decisions.
    I think at least a small rating loss makes sense for quitting before the game starts, and it also makes the decision more interesting: ‘should I play and risk a loss of x rating (if I die instantly) with a decent chance of surviving long enough to only lose 0.1x rating, or should I quit now at a guaranteed loss of 0.5x rating?


  4. @Provi miner: the hauler already loses 100% of his cargo. The ganker gets 50% on the long run. Chance is irrelevant if you have enough samples. It becomes relevant if you don’t. If you pop 50 haulers a week with 50% drop chance, you’ll have around 25 units of loot. If you kill a boss once a week, and he has 5% drop chance for your loot, then you are completely at the mercy of luck.

    @Anon1: I mean you can leave before the plane takes off. If it takes off, you accepted the game. Now you can jump to the perfect position, but nothing stops everyone else from doing the same and you get killed in a fistfight.


  5. RNG loot is known to be a poor game mechanic, but everyone uses it because it is more attention grabbing than the alternative of grinding up fractions of an upgrade for killing a boss hundreds of times.
    Good RNG in the gameplay is a strong mechanic. It requires the ability to notice and react to changes, conduct actions based on partial information and presents interesting choices between mitigating against potential bad luck or playing for the high.


  6. I don’t know, think about poker, you’d imply that poker is completely skill-less, yet poker tournaments and the likes have consistent winners, which would imply there’s a degree of skill at play. Also applies to pretty much all card games.

    You might be onto something, but I don’t believe they’re mutually exclusive.


  7. I totally agree. RNG is a shitty mechanic and opens an entry for rigging. RNG IS grind! One will never know how often to repeat the same boss. Maybe one can buy luck charms for real money and get better drop results?

    Provi miner misunderstood GG. I’ve seen too many km where the loot fairy said FU!


  8. Games aren’t life. They are incredibly simple compared to even the simplest real-life situation. Without some form of randomness, it would be trivially easy to design a perfect strategy which would turn a game into an exercise in repetitiveness.
    It applies to loot, too. If it isn’t randomized then I will only go to the one boss that drops my perfect gear and ignore everything else. If they drop currency I will go to the boss that drops the best value for time spent.


  9. There is just one problem with “We must eliminate all kinds of RNG from games”: we cannot. Only the people who make games can. And they have for the long time used randomness for their money-making purposes: from prolonging the play time in subscription games to outright gambling lockbox practices. They won’t give it up without a fight.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Guild Wars 2 gambling from post is misleading. The guy mentions some obscure hidden areas where you pay gold to get items. Ocarina of Time did that in 1998, you just had the lens of truth later to skip it.

    GW2 is all about running events, pvping, or crafting. No RNG unless for drops, but everything can be sold and you can buy what you need with gold on the AH.

    Mystic Forge obssesses people because they want to turn gold into gems. Why? To buy useless fashion shit on the gem store. Gem store has only useless fashion shit.

    You can buy a full set of Berserker (equivalent stats under another name) for about 20-30g, including weapons. That’s all you need for 95% of content, except raids and highest tier fractals (which are a repeat of the first level, anyways).

    Anything else is not necessary, only useless fashion crap that makes you epileptic.

    Ascended gear is not necessary, and ascended weapons can now be acquired from collections fairly easily. For like 100g, and a couple hours of play. They’re also account bound.


  11. I agree about 90% with the Goblin on this one. I do think SOME variance is ok, but not the wild swings of “No loot for you!” or “Ooo! You got 2 pieces of Titanforged tier this raid!” For games like WoW, you should get a soulbound resource that you turn into gear when you get back to town. For games like PUBG, the weapons should ramp up as the game goes on… only pistols at first, then rifles… only near the end do you start getting the best stuff.

    As for skills, crits are ok, but should be downplayed some in favor of combo moves that increase the damage, but require you to execute a more complicated attack.


  12. Don’t confuse gambling with randomness.
    There is a weird sort of skill to randomness. There are, for example, poker players able to win consistently, despite the game being very random at the core.
    Also, RNG is occasionally a lot better at simulating complex mechanics than any deliberate attempt at actually simulating them can ever be. Original XCOM’s AI is still the best tactical AI out there (imo), despite a significant portion of random behaviour in it.


  13. For the most part, regarding randomness in rolls fir things like damage, it’s mostly default bias. Many Mmorpgs are really only MMOGs.

    Dungeons and Dragons attempted to simulate reality in a fantastic universe to provide a vicarious experience. Early games in that category attempted to emulate the model. It was part of the game.

    The issue I think you and others have is transparency. If randomness is truly random for everyone, then there is equity.

    Skill emerges through mitigation of risk.

    Life is ultimately random, so when we have competition where strict rules are enforced, we use a series of tests to determine skill. The championship might be “best of x games”. It dilludes the effect simply one “bad roll” costing the game.

    But like pen and paper, we accept thos due to transparency. I can watch a reply to.determine whether a call was good or bad. I can see what I rolled on my to hit, as the die cast lies before me. The DM screens some rolls, but I could easily leave the game or peek behind the screen if I distrust them just as you have left games you could not trust, either.

    This begs the question, how do we trust the people running our games? How can they garnish trust?


  14. We must eliminate all kinds of RNG from games, making skill and effort the only things deciding outcome.

    RNG – random number generator – Rolling the dice. Ever played table top DND or other RL table top? Would make explaing this to much easier.

    In a nutshell. RNG the DICE … that’s the whole shtick with that genre. and how to favour yourself with RNG, and how to handle if RNG isn’t in favour. does your build handle rng drought or can capitilize on good rolls? the dice gives variation for the game master. all skillsets. if you want everyone and their grandma the same, play commie quake … static item spawn, timer, layout, dmg, hp, powerups, only thing random was/is respawn location in static layout locations that get memories easily. go have fun. did that 3 years in the early 2000s exesivley, was fun. Now its quake live. or play CS very static too no randomness there.
    That is why I don’t like new FPS or tactical shooters to be precice. they adopted RPG elements where I think FPS should be all about skill and nearly no RNG. But no one cares, like you see in sold numbers and concurrent players over all.

    randomly generated maps are OK
    Nope. random spawn point, and gamedevs will favour the idiot that whaled every possible virtual item the gameshop has. without anyone figuring that one out that easily.

    Sure, yes, how far gamedesign stretches this is a bit stupid. Aion for example every item can be enchanted and guess what RNG. you only matter if you push the higest enchant levels because of rediculous bonuses from enchant. Guess what the shop has to offer? no-fail-helper-scrolls. it’s the best shit there is … how else can you basically print money out of thin air?

    getting rid of RNG would heavily influence npc AI design too.

    slide down on the slippery slope
    ehm. well. History? they have to be slot mashines and be better at sucking out your money by every iterration?! because it’s their heiritage. that is to be successful in gaming industry. I don’t know what you want.
    it’s not the DND table top evening with your friends, that matters or get streamed. It’s not that GPL licensed MMO with some whacky distributed server shit where every node is slow as fuck because selfhosted. it is corporations that can bank bucks with game, by capitalist observation these games are it! RNG plays a huge roll in this, to extend play time and get people hooked.
    You can play what you want. there are pleanty of NO-RNG games. don’t look at most streamed or most solled or most played. At the top you will always find the greediest and newest ploys to get you addicted somehow and pay for it.


  15. Or you could go the other way. Randomize everything, always. Why should you even get to choose which character you log in? Or, for that matter, which game you play? Let’s keep things fresh!


  16. I’ve had a look at the Casino and its gambling items. First, no real money involved.

    Its rewards are nothing you need to play the game.


  17. @Souldrinker: you can eliminate randomness from YOUR gaming by not buying games that rely on randomness.

    @Anon: winning in poker is mostly the skill of folding. When you realize that you cannot win and cut the losses. In the games you cannot ramp up the stakes or fold.

    @No, I didn’t like tabletop D&D exactly because of the dice. I saw it as storytelling while playing snakes and ladders.


  18. “Yes. And it would be the end of many genres of games as we know them. The only way to make the losers win sometimes is by introducing randomness. ”

    Just wanted to add that 15-20 years ago things like grenades or headshots in Counterstrike got added for exactly this reason. To give even bad players the chance to have a ‘lucky kill’, as a grenade oneshots the enemy, no matter if the grenade was thrown at the exact position on purpose or ‘randomly’.

    I prefer such mechanics over RNG any time.


  19. NO Goblin, if every hauler knows that they will drop 50% of the loot then they just fly cheap enough that the “unrandom” 50% is less than the cost for me to kill them.


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