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Unlockable Bonuses

Bonuses and bonus content have always been an incentive for gamers to keep playing.

When we turn to video games, we tend to do so because we love the base gameplay. Whether shooting aliens, scoring the final goal in overtime, or shooting aliens while scoring a goal in overtime, these allow us to do things which we might never accomplish in real life.

Like anything in life, however, longevity is rarely something which can be assured in even the most popular of games. This is where the idea of unlocks and bonuses come in. Whether directly affecting elements within the game, or offering bonuses in the surrounding infrastructure, these can help entice and keep us going when we might otherwise move on.

While this has been a part of gaming for generations, the current environment is increasingly drawing parallels to the type of greater bonuses as detailed by online casino comparison website Oddschecker. Newer unlocks give us big discounts and free game time, as many of these do, but before we get this, let’s jump back a bit.

Which examples best illustrate our favorite takes from the world of gaming bonuses and unlocks?

Real-World Proof – Pokémon

The original Pokémon games Red and Blue back on the Gameboy were revelations in their own right. Collect almost all of them, realize you can’t do that alone, and then forge friendships in pursuit of a similar goal, this was mobile gaming on an entirely new level.

So what awaited those diligent enough to actually complete the original Pokédex? How about a diploma for bragging rights?

The best part of this came from the attachment for the Game Boy called the Game Boy Printer. This allowed you to, get this, print out your diploma to carry with you as proof of your mastery. Few items could impress others like this could, making it a mark of honor among early Pokémon fans.

In-Game Rewards – Dead Space

Dead Space and its sequels are some of the best horror games ever released. Coming out on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, this brought survival horror into the new generation. This showed just how much new technology could add to the equation.

Those with the skill to make it through Dead Space 2 on hardcore difficultly were met with an unlock which still stands as one of the funniest we’ve ever seen. Your reward for braving a terrifying environment on such a difficulty? A large foam finger.

Acting as a gun, the protagonist Isaac would yell out “Pew” and “Bang” every time the trigger was pulled. Easily separating the monsters from their limbs, this unlockable gun utterly undercut the mood of Dead Space in the most hilarious of ways. It makes a lot of sense, really. If you managed to finish the game on hardcore, then chances are that nothing scared you anymore.

Community and eSports Rewards – Overwatch

Turning back to our casino examples with overarching infrastructure, it is Blizzard’s Overwatch which has recently introduced some ground-breaking additions. Eager to grow the interest in their eSports scene, Blizzard has created a bonus system whereby watching their online eSports league will earn the player credits.

These credits can then be spent on player skins which show support for the major teams of the league back within the base game. Gaming has now effectively entered the mainstream televised arena. Developments such as these are not just great for the players, but also for the overall state of the industry.

Even better, a recent MVP Overwatch League player JJoNak got his own unique skin developed especially for him. This sort of cooperation has been rare so far, but it’s something we really hope to see more of in the future.

A Balancing Act

Creating the right types of unlocks and bonuses is not an easy task. You don’t want to overpower a character in progress and ruin the game. However, you also want to provide a real sense of accomplishment for the path they have traveled.

Finding this balance is not an easy task, and too often games try and fail. Even the fantastic Super Mario 64 messed this up. The game offered 100 bonus lives after collecting all 120 stars. This bonus serves no purpose after mastery of the game is already proven.

We can only hope that the lessons taught by our examples will be the lessons learned by newer games going forward. If not, then at least we can always fall back on the classics.