When it comes to the real money gaming industry, both in person and online, the focus tends to be on a small handful of established casino games. In person, you know what to expect when you walk into a casino: banks of slot machines and video card games, small side areas with blackjack and poker tables, and similar areas for roulette and craps. There might be a few more games here and there, but that pretty much tells the story at any mid-sized to large casino.
The selection tends to be similar online, though it can be larger. Most players choose a site based on its collection of games, so these sites are constantly looking to add new, trendy titles, or very occasionally new types of games altogether. As is the case in the real casinos, however, the slot machines still tend to be the real driving force behind gaming sites, particularly now thanks to improved graphics and more engaging content.
As well as this general formula works though, both in person and online, it’s still fair to say there’s something a little bit stale about casinos these days. And that is why, according to multiple reports, some of the biggest casinos in the world are now embracing video games. This is a hypothetical example, but what we mean by this is that one day in the near future you might be able to sit down right next to a row of traditional slot machines, insert a chip or a bill of your choice, and try to win a circuit on Mario Kart for actual cash. It’s a pretty amazing development, and one unmistakably aimed at roping younger people into casino culture.
That all sounds good to us, so we gave some thought to some of the great retro video games that might work best in a slightly tweaked gambling format. These were a few titles that came to mind…
Super Mario World (1990)
While it’s not quite as old as what some think of as retro games, Super Mario World is nearing its 30th anniversary, so it’s hard not to count it. And really, in some ways, it’s the quintessential Mario game. At least one publication ranked it as the third best Mario game of all time, and the best of the oldies (with the top two slots, somewhat controversially in our opinion, going to Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Odyssey). Best of all though, its simple approach – designed in 2D and based on quick levels – would seem to make it a dream for casino game developers. Payouts could be based on level progression or even coins collected or enemies defeated, and players would be thrilled even by minimalistic graphics.
Paperboy is made for invented challenges. It’s one of the simpler retro games (at least if you don’t count the likes of Pong or early Tanks), yet it could very easily be tweaked via the simple emphasis of streaks. Think about it from the casino’s perspective: Everyone who plays Paperboy for more than a few minutes becomes convinced he or she can successfully deliver 10, 15, 20, or 50 papers in a row, but this is usually harder than expected. So why not make them wager on it? Tiny payouts for low streaks would only encourage people to aim higher for more difficult streaks, and voila – a new casino game is born, entertaining for players and likely profitable for the house.
Ms. Pac-Man (1981)
Ms. Pac-Man has an argument as the most iconic video game of all time, such that even younger millennials tend to be mysteriously familiar with it. And like Paperboy, it lends itself to a fairly easy payment and reward structure. Imagine, for instance, that there are 220 dots in a given level (which in some versions of the game is standard), and that there are four ghosts. Now, what if eating a ghost earned you $2.50, each dot were $0.01, and it cost $10 to play a game. That would mean you’d be out $10 with a chance to earn $12.20 if you play a perfect level. Those may or may not be the most strategic numbers, but it gives you an idea of how well this game could work in a casino.
GoldenEye 007 (1997)
There’s been a little bit of buzz about modern shooters making their way into casinos, and it’s probably inevitable given that these are often among the most popular console and PC games. But GoldenEye 007 has been called the first great console shooter, and with good reason. As with Super Mario (and the rest of these games), there would be no need for advanced graphics, because people like the retro look. And payouts could work all kinds of different ways. There could be multiplayer tournaments arranged with a winner taking a big prize and the house taking a cut of all entries, for instance. Or people could simply pay to try to make it through as many levels in a row as they could, with a higher payout the further they get.
Street Fighter (any year)
This is something of a retro franchise, even if it’s still going today. But it’s one with a massive following, and putting in an older version of Street Fighter would undoubtedly make for a hit. Here as with GoldenEye 007, payment possibilities could work in different ways. The casinos could simply take a cut of what people pay to play in a tournament (with the winner taking a large cut as well), or people could pay to play through levels, earning more money the more successful they are. While we’re at it, Mortal Kombat would work just as well, and probably draw a similarly enthusiastic crowd.