RNG in Video Gaming: Why is it so roundly criticized?

The use of random number generators (RNGs) in the video gaming world has been a staple for several years now. Many development studios now rely on the nature of an RNG to deliver the variety of gameplay that’s needed to maintain the playability of games and keep them fresh.

RNGs are used in many other industries to help generate random values too. In the cyber security world, RNGs can be used to help maintain the integrity of high-security databases. They achieve this by continually changing passwords or access codes using periodic random number generations to evade the prying eyes of cyber-criminals. It’s a similar story in the banking sector, where major financial institutions lean heavily on RNGs to oversee their two-factor authentication (2FA) login methods for customers.

RNGs are also increasingly used to automate and randomize the outcome of events in the iGaming industry. They not only ensure the fairness and transparency of slot and table games, but they’re also programmed to ensure such games adhere to their predetermined return to player (RTP) percentages. An RTP rate identifies the theoretical percentages of winnings that a slot is likely to return to players over the long-term. That’s why seasoned iGamers always check the stats before they play, to ensure the RTP rates fall within an acceptable payback range.

What kind of video games feature RNGs?

RNGs aren’t essential in every type of video game. There are some gaming genres that simply don’t require randomness to retain their playability. Take the combat multiplayer genre, which leans more heavily on a gamer’s technical capabilities with their character as opposed to the items received or where they are respawned. Historically, RNG has been used more in puzzle games or platform games where these randomised outcomes are needed when characters land on certain items.

two men playing pc games

The biggest issue regarding RNG is its impact on competitive gaming. RNGs are a necessity in some of the biggest eSports titles played worldwide. Take Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) as a prime example. RNG is not only used to ascertain how and where bullets ultimately find their targets, it also determines where and when players are respawned. In another eSports classic, DOTA 2, RNG is also a deciding factor in how regularly a player’s in-game abilities will hurt their opponents.

eSports stars often feel hamstrung by random game mechanics

For the highest-paid eSports professionals that train 24/7 and view competitive video gaming as a lucrative career, RNGs can be viewed as somewhat deskilling. Given the element of randomness they bring to a game, it takes more than a modicum of control away from the gamer. Video game developers would tell you that, without RNGs, their games would quickly grow tiresome. The use of RNGs is what piques a player’s curiosity and desire, as every level and every gaming session differs from the next.

But when RNGs make it possible for a novice gamer to usurp a professional eSports gamer on the balance of luck rather than skill, you can see why so many people grow irritable at the thought of them.

The other big issue with RNGs is that they can easily be manipulated in certain video games. After all, an RNG is essentially one big programmable algorithm that fires out random values which determine the outcome of the next respawn, weapon, item, level, you name it. Algorithms require variables to deliver those random values. Some gamers have deduced that algorithms can often be set based on the order in which players press buttons during the game. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for seasoned veterans to have cracked RNGs by pressing a certain sequence of buttons to guarantee the rarest items in world-renowned games like Final Fantasy.

The problem eSports professionals have is that RNGs are almost certainly here to stay. Video game developers and publishers cannot pander to the niche of competitive gamers. They can only deliver for the mainstream audience of casual gamers that want to be entertained and avoid any kind of monotony in their favourite video games.