Does Playtech’s ‘Game Modifier’ compromise fairness of online casino games?
For decades, the integrity of casinos have been questioned by players from far and wide. In the early days of Las Vegas, it is well known fact that the mafia ran the city, and mobsters aren’t really known for their fairness. Strict regulation via government authorities eventually brought integrity to the land-based casino industry, but when internet-based gambling came along, all the old questions of fairness arose once more.
Again, it took years of legislative efforts all across the globe to bring palpable order to the iGaming realm, but the industry has finally achieved a distinguished reputation for responsibility. So long as casinos are licensed and regulated in reputable jurisdictions, players can rest assured their getting a fair deal.
At least, that was the perception before Playtech announced the release of its new Space Digger Slot. On the surface, it seems like another inter-galactic gem with 5 reels, 20 paylines and the usual wilds, scatters, and free spins features. Underneath, however, it’s equipped with an innovation they call ‘Game Modifier‘, and based on their own description, it could become a detriment to the integrity of online casinos.
Playtech’s ‘Game Modifier’ Compromising Fairness of Online Casino Games?
Your basic slot machine, online or on land, cannot be tampered with. The manufacturer sets the theoretical return to player (RTP), and the casino offers the game. Live casinos cannot press a magic button that makes their machines tighten up, and neither can their internet-based cousins. Until now…
Playtech’s Game Modifier system gives online casino operators the option to enhance Space Digger’s rewarding features for all players, a categorical “cluster” of players, or individual players, at their own discretion. In essence, casinos are able to offer a higher RTP on Space Digger to players of their choosing.
The company’s press release extolling the release of Space Digger states:
“This intergalactic game from Playtech’s Origins studio features an unlockable special feature, which licensees can choose to offer to selected player clusters, or even individual players. The game, playable from 10p a spin, features a stacked wild symbol that can stand in for any other symbol, except the bonus symbol, to create the best possible winning combination. Using the Game Modifier, licensees can offer players an additional stacked wild during the Free Spins bonus round for even greater win potential.”
More Controversial Game Modifier Slots To Come
Space Diggers isn’t the first online slot machine to feature the hidden Game Modifier system. According to Playtech, its late 2018 release of the Justice League Slot was the pilot for the back-end feature program. The company says it was a big success, and as such:
“Space Digger is the first in a planned series of games developed specifically with this unique technology in mind.”
Playtech calls this a “marketing tool”, but I call it deception. For one thing, the company did not provide the intended RTP for Space Diggers. That’s because they cannot provide it, since casinos have the ability to flip a proverbial switch and change it. It will either be the introductory RTP, or the boosted RTP, but we have no way of knowing the numerical value of either one.
Its creators say Game Modifiers have “a range of potential applications”, wherein operators have the option of things like “rewarding VIPs”, or “attracting lapsed players to return by boosting their engagement and entertainment levels”.
I call it nothing short of compromising the fairness of online casino games, and potentially breaching the terms of social responsibility among today’s most respected remote gambling authorities. Certain regulatory bodies restrict promotional bonuses, limiting casinos to a one-time new player bonus, but nothing more. To me, this is just another way to evade the law, enticing potential at-risk gamblers to make more deposits and lose more money, without violating the terms of those licenses.
Unless the casinos that host these games are willing to divulge the standard RTP, and modified RTP of these new slot machines, I cannot assume them to be anything more than a rip off.