Looking back at this year’s top console and mobile releases, there’s plenty to be excited about. Sports simulations continued to deliver with 2K Sports’ NBA2K20, Animal Cross lovers received a New Horizons installation, Resident Evil returned with a huge remake, and RPG games of all varieties evolved in exciting ways.
One thing is clear about new releases in the video game world: they tend to include minigames. Ranging from optional side quests to necessary ventures that build points of experience, developers are layering games within games.
Aside from the occasional microtransactions, fans seem to be onboard with minigames—and it may be because they aren’t so new after all. Minigames are often structured similarly to casino games, involving elements of both skill and chance.
Today, the online casino boom is gaining steam, which leaves little surprise why video games are jumping onboard with popular minigames that resemble slots or even include games like poker. And, on the flip side, online casino platforms that offer real-money payouts have also stepped up their game offerings to make the experience more dynamic.
Sites like Casinohuone, based in Finland, offer a variety of themed slots from Wild West showdowns to special holiday slots that rotate based on the season. Rather than feature minigames as part of a video game installment, online casinos are creating their own mini franchises with popular designs and premises.
Far Cry 3: Poker
As one of the most beloved installations of the Far Cry franchise, the island-bound open-world shooter game delivers on high-octane action, a believable (if twisted) storyline and characters, and interesting side quests.
As players navigate the world as the principal character Jason, they’re also subject to unexpected events like interactions with the wildlife or chances at a ‘Trial of Rakyat’ mission. These quests include a poker challenge as a minigame and allow players the chance to earn some cash to help Jason’s mission on the Rook Islands.
Red Dead Redemption 2: Poker Saloons
In the third installment of the mega-popular Red Dead series, players must navigate the dangerous decline of the Wild West that the main character, Arthur Morgan, is familiar with. Red Dead offers players an open-world shooter experience that doesn’t skimp on action and realism.
When players aren’t engaged in deadly faceoffs or shootouts, they can play poker at certain points in missions, like the Who Is Not Without Sin arc early in the game. Poker is presented in a standard Texas Hold’Em format familiar to most card players and allows them to earn some cash for Morgan without deviating from the Wild West theme.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3: Slots
As one of the longest-running video game franchises in history, Sonic the Hedgehog continues to develop to stay popular and relevant with audiences. Developers add elements to keep the action alive in a game that doesn’t include a complex narrative.
The Slot Machine Stage is one of the Bonus Stages included, which is comprised of a standard slot machine that rotates three images and incorporates a second minigame. Depending on performance, players collect up to thirty rings for their efforts.
Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, & Emerald: Slots & Roulette
The Pokémon installations are some of the first to include minigames. Much like Sonic, these are meant to add a dimensional layer to straightforward gameplay. Across a variety of cities, from Celadon, Goldenrod, Mauville, and Veilstone, ‘Game Corners’ can be found.
Japanese versions use slot machines to help players win coins and other prizes that bring them closer to rare Pokémon like Scyther, Eevee, Dratini, and Porygon.
Fallout New Vegas: ‘Caravan’
As a Fallout spinoff, this installation saw players navigate a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. The presence of casino-like minigames should come as little surprise. Rather than just featuring slots, poker, or roulette, New Vegas delivers on all three and then introduces ‘Caravan’.
Caravan is a card game designed specifically for the franchise. Unlike the other games, Caravan comes up often outside casino settings within the New Vegas world and provides key opportunities for players to build experience.