The history of gambling in video games

Back in 1981, the Twin Galaxies Arcade Salon opened in Iowa, the owner of which recorded the achievements of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong video game players with a video camera and sent them to the Guinness Book of Records (the process is remarkably displayed in the documentary The King of Kong). With the records came the support of sponsors, with sponsors – tournaments with cash prizes, with tournaments – professional players. In May 1997, John Carmack promised to give his red Ferrari to the winner of the Quake tournament, in 2000 the World Cyber Olympiad was held in South Korea with a prize fund of 200 thousand dollars, in 2005, the total prize money in the competitions of the Professional Cyber Athletes League was million dollars, and in 2007 – five million.

Nowadays such cyber-tournaments have from 30 to 40 million dollars total prize pools. For example, The Dota 2 International had a total prize pool of 30+ million dollars.

However, to win such a big sum of money, you need to be at a skill level of Billy Mitchell (the first person to get the maximum possible points in Pac-Man), Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendell, Lim Yo Hwan or Anton Singov. To play at a professional level, you need to train for 8-12 hours a day, win a lot of online tournaments, and only then (if you are lucky), you will be invited to be among the winners of the Counter-Strike, Quake or StarCraft championship with real cash prizes. Team sponsorship is generally just tickets and, occasionally, free hardware. E-sports is a difficult, unpromising and monotonous task, and it’s easier to squeeze money out of games, getting a job as a game designer or journalist.

The Color of online money

In the end of the 90s the situation changed somewhat with the heyday of MMORPGs and farming – the same 8-12 hours a day can be spent on playing EverQuest by twelve characters at the same time: beat monsters, collect platinum, exchange it for real money … Net income – $30-40 per day, the monthly subscription fee is only $15. But this task was much more monotonous than becoming a real cyber-athlete.

Separately, we can mention friendly bets made during Deathmatches in CS, Quake or fighting games. Each of these methods has its drawbacks: by making “friendly” bets, you may lose your friend due to argues and sometimes physical violence.

At the beginning of the 2000s, sites like the American WorldWinner or the British GameDuell appeared, where you could fight for money in online billiards, darts, mahjong, quizzes, card and word games, Arkanoid-type games, Bejeweled and Zuma. For registration such websites usually gave 100 extra credits for competition. Then you choose a game tournament, pay an entrance fee, compete.

How StarCraft and Counter-Strike Differ from Texas Hold’em

Online poker with video games has more in common than roulette or for example, “one-armed bandits” here – Since poker requires skill, strategy, practice and ability to perfectly bluff. Same is applied in StarCraft, CS and many other e-sports games.

Since today gambling is prohibited almost everywhere, companies related to this niche (gambling and betting) will find the ways around to make money according to legislation. For example, e-sports events or new types of casino games with gamified functions which place skill of the player at first place and luck at second. All aspects of gambling may be applied to video games and legally operate since it won’t be counted as a real gambling.

The e-sports are getting momentum for the last 3-5 years and in future these events will become only bigger, and with such events gambling will keep up to date for sure. Since every tournament has sponsors, bets, players and wins. Gambling is everywhere and it won’t go away, never.

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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