DraftKings’ New ‘Rocket’ Game Is Fun, Gaming Experts Worried



So I don’t know if it’s one of those “The end is near!” type of agreements or one of these “What a great leap in the history of Western civilization!” »Things, but I know a lot of things: DraftKings’ the in-house casino design team has managed to marry the experience of a caffeine buzz (or crack for the most serious degens) and the “Cliffhangers” on the theme of yodeling game on The price is right.

In a nutshell: Eeesh.

OK, here are the facts: Called “Rocket” and currently offered only in New Jersey – with Michigan and West Virginia next in line pending regulatory approval – the game is very straightforward. You place your bet – as little as a dollar – and your rocket takes off. You’re on the rocket with a number of people, but you’re not competing with them. You just boarded with them. And then there’s a six-second countdown – you never have to wait more than six seconds for the next rocket to arrive, sort of a utopian public transport vision, to 3021 – and then the fun begins.

As the rocket takes off, there is a digital scale on the right side of the screen. It starts at 1, goes to 1.1 in about a second, hits 2.0 in about 12 seconds, then the logarithmic scale starts to kick in. It hits 5.0 in about 30 seconds, then grows up from of the. By the time it hits 10.0 things start to happen quickly. Blink of an eye and it’s at 15.0, 20.0, 25.0. Personally, I have seen it reach 83.0.

And how do you win? By knocking over the rocket before it explodes (no matter what utopian transit takes above) and cashing in at the level you bailed out at.

So if you bet a dollar and surety 2.0, you double your money. Deposit at 3.0, triple. Etc.

But remember, it takes a good 12 seconds to get to 2.0, so you can choose to bail out as soon as the rocket takes off to win a dime or a dime on your $ 1 bet. Of course, there’s a chance the rocket will explode immediately, and that’s it.

The player takes “control”

While this game sounds ridiculously simple – and it is – it marks a step forward in the true gamification of slots. It’s not just about leaderboards, storylines and loyalty points – it’s a real “you are in control (sort of, but not really)” game for real money. And while you don’t really have control – as noted, the rocket can explode on launch, costing you your bet – you sort of have control, as you can easily sit there all day taking shots. gambling pennies… or tempting fate and waiting to bail out after doubling, tripling or increasing your money.

Having personally sampled the game a few times, even though it’s not a slots guy (or a gaming guy) in general, I can say this: it’s scary and exciting. I’ve never played a dollar game that made my heart beat so fast. No kidding.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves the game.

“Rocket set a record for participation in the game at launch and shows no signs of slowing down,” said a spokesperson for DraftKings. New Jersey Online Gambling by email. “Rocket is a whole new concept of gaming and DraftKings is proud to be the first US operator to offer this type of game.”

Note here: The game was designed entirely in-house, one of more than 30 games created by the company. But he’s the first to use this entirely new concept, which brings a level of non-skill (but a lot of nerf of steel) to the “table”.

I saw 20 rockets take off and explode. The highest he got was 26.24; lowest 1.23. If you bailed 1.1 each time on a $ 1 bet, you would have taken $ 2. If you had bailed out at 2.0 each time, you would have won 14 times and lost six times, for a profit of $ 8. If you set yourself a deposit at 5.0 each time (and you can set automatic limits), you would have lost $ 8. Should you set yourself a deposit at 26.0? You would only have won once, but for a profit of $ 6.

Expected net return? Well, hard to say, sure, but the expected return on investment is 97% if you bailed out at 1.01 every time. Obviously this is a game of luck, and obviously the odds are stacked against you.

But it’s a different animal this game, because you play an active role in the outcome – even though the rocket explosion point is predetermined.

And that scares some people whose job it is to quell gambling problems.

Illusion vs reality

“It exacerbates the thrill and the rush. That part of the brain that lights up when you play anyway, that accelerates it, ”said Brianne Doura-Schawohl, vice president of U.S. policy and strategic development for EPIC risk management. “His literally like a rocket, like putting rocket fuel on that part of the brain giving you that trigger to control how much you’re going to risk when playing. It’s terrifying.

To be fair, Doura-Schawohl hasn’t played the game, only watched the demo, but his concern centers on the “in control” part of the equation – which, to be fair, is what makes the game so fun.

“It’s definitely the first of its kind, and it’s disappointing in my mind because it gives this false impression that people have more control, that there is an element of skill more than there is. really, ”she said. “I’m afraid it gives that false sense of control over the outcome when there is an algorithm that details when the rocket is going to explode.”

Doura-Schawohl is also concerned about the autoplay feature, in which a player can play up to 50 times in a row.

This also worries Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, who said that the game’s high playing speed associated with the autoplay feature is strongly correlated with gambling addiction.

Whyte is also concerned with the illusion of control.

“It’s a very innovative game, but for people with gambling problems they are more likely to believe in the illusion of control,” he said. “But control becomes really hard to gauge in a hybrid game like this. There’s a fine line between making a game really exciting and making a game that maybe gives a little too much control.

As for DraftKings’ reaction to such concerns?

“DraftKings takes responsible gaming concerns seriously,” responded an email response. “In addition to providing our customers with a number of responsible gaming resources across our product line, we have committed millions of dollars to promote safer gaming initiatives and we are constantly working with experts from around the world. industry and external stakeholders. “

In the end, this is almost certainly only the beginning of slots that play like games and give the player the ability to exercise some control. Whether this turns out to be a good idea or not is something to grapple with down the line. Until then: Yeah, it’s (sorry) a blast.

Photo: Shutterstock


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