Mobile Gaming: Random Rewards and Artificial Difficulty

Mobile gaming has exploded in popularity, offering accessible entertainment on the go. But within this vast library, a trend is raising eyebrows: the increasing presence of mechanics that feel suspiciously like gambling.

Let’s explore the two key areas where this blurring of lines is happening:

In-App Purchases and Random Rewards

Many mobile games offer optional in-app purchases (IAPs) for power-ups, cosmetic items, or even characters. But some take it a step further, incorporating random elements into these purchases. Imagine spending real money on a pack of cards, only to discover the character or item you truly desired isn’t guaranteed. This injects an element of chance typically associated with gambling, potentially fueling addictive spending behavior.

Stamina Systems and Artificial Difficulty

Some mobile games employ stamina systems that limit your playtime unless you pay for refills. This tactic can feel manipulative, forcing players to choose between waiting or spending money to continue enjoying the game they’ve already invested time in. Additionally, some games artificially inflate difficulty later in the experience, making progress near impossible without IAP-fueled upgrades. This design choice prioritizes short-term profit over creating a balanced and rewarding experience.


The line between a challenging and engaging game and one that exploits gambling-like mechanics is thin. As players, we deserve transparency and a fair playing field. Mobile game developers should prioritize crafting engaging experiences that focus on skill and strategy, not exploiting our desire for quick wins or rare rewards. After all, the best games leave us wanting more because of their depth and fun, not because they’ve locked us out until we pay.