In June 2019, Riot Games released its second game in a decade after League of Legends called Teamfight Tactics (TFT). The game was created in about 18 weeks (you can read more about the full development process here and quickly reached over 80 million players since launch. TFT was based on the success of Dota Auto Chess / Underlords, which spawned a new game category where 8 players collect and sell/swap pieces to put on the board different combinations to ultimately defeat the other 7 players. Whoever has the strongest combinations each round will win the game.
Snippet of TFT gameplay where you can see your "cards" on the bottom and decide which combinations of traits you want to include in the game to ultimately beat out the other players. Yes this is an old Set.
Since the launch of TFT, I've personally played over 352 games, which equates to roughly 176 hours given the average game lasts a little over 30 minutes. Definitely a good amount of time devoted to a game for someone working a full-time job, but nothing too out of the ordinary.
However, of all the popular multiplayer strategic games currently available today, I noticed TFT and the new Autochess genre enable enough randomness (RNG) that create a new level of addictiveness eerily similar to traditional card games you can play at the casino like blackjack. The average player gets the same thrill of hitting the right combination in each round as they would hitting blackjack and getting paid out 3:2 on their bet. Add on a competitive element with a rank tier system and IP from an already popular game, and people (like me) are immediately hooked.
A quick search on "TFT Addiction".
Most games do implement some gambling mechanisms such as introducing loot boxes people can purchase at a set price to hopefully win more expensive (or cheaper) items or even creating an entire genre of social gambling for people to play casino games for free or virtual currency online. These are clearly problematic video game practices and are now becoming more regulated after studies found [significant links to problematic gambling](https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200714101236.htm#:~:text=A new study suggests that,significantly linked to problem gambling.&text=A range of video game,gambling%2C a study has revealed.).
More deceptive are games that on the surface visually do not scream gambling, but may implement potentially problematic game mechanics that mirror the mechanics of common casino games. The Autochess genre is just one example where later on in the game small decisions can make or break your placements, you begin hoping for the "card" you need to complete or improve a set. It's an almost identical dopamine boost for when you hope for the dealer to either bust out or hand you a face card to gain a better hand in blackjack.
What is interesting is that the playstyle and mechanics in Autochess games are much different than other traditional shooting games like Fortnite or Call of Duty. These are commonly addictive games and have been able to build massive fan bases through primarily social interaction, but Autochess mechanics would not necessarily draw people interested in shooters to switch over since everything about the genre is completely different. Naturally I figured it couldn't just be traditional gamers playing this game since many skillsets developed through other genres would not translate well and a casual, mobile gamer would struggle with some of the nuance complexities in Autochess games. I believe there are definitely more casual gamblers playing in this genre of games compared to other traditional popular games.
While it's tough to find proof, I did find another study done last year of over 3900 Canadians to discover that roughly 79% of the gamers in the study reported gambling in the past year in some capacity, showing that there is already an overlap between the two hobbies. I believe that if the Autochess genre continues to expand or new genres appear with similar dynamics, more casual gamblers will either starting gaming, and potentially gamers that reach legal gambling age may be more enticed to explore a few games and new hobbies.