Social Gaming vs. Real Money Gaming

People play games for various reasons. Some seek fun and entertainment. Others enjoy competing against other players or the game itself. Then there are those who see monetary rewards. Whatever the reason, players are increasing in numbers and spending more and more on gaming. By 2025, the gaming industry is expected to reach $300 billion in revenue. A large portion of that money will come for social gaming. Somewhat ironically, almost all social games are free to play. Well, at least that is what developers are telling us. But how much are those free games costing us?

Social Gaming

Social gaming is a term that depicts all those lovely games that you get bombarded with on Facebook. The other name often used to describe them is social network gaming. Titles like Farmville, Candy Crush Saga, and Clash of Clans are just some social games. They have millions of players. In the case of Candy Crush Saga, the number is 272 million. The players have spent a mind-numbing 73 billion hours playing it since it was launched in 2012. That is 8.3 million years. The developers raked in $930 million in 2018 alone. Considering that the game is supposedly free to play, that is a lot of money. Many games that you have to buy haven’t even close to that level of success.

Real Money Gaming

Real money gaming has been around for thousands of years. Some evidence suggests that people were gambling back in the Paleolithic period. For those of you not keeping tabs on history, that is long before we as the human race invented writing. The rise of the Internet has only given it a new form. There are many online casinos like the popular Spin and Win Casino attracting millions of players. Most games found in them are traditional ones, like poker, blackjack, and baccarat. A special category is online slots. The principal is the same as with old mechanical slots, but with added features for more entertainment and chances to win.

Social Gaming vs. Real Money Gaming

There are two most common points of comparison between social gaming vs. real money gaming, time and money. Below we will address each separately, but before we do, we have a bone to pick with so-called “free games”. Yes, they are free to download and play, but that’s about it. If you plan on playing competitively, you better have your credit card ready. We won’t name any names, but a lot of free to play games are actually pay to win games. If you don’t shell out cash for upgrades and bonuses, you don’t stand a chance against the players who do. At least with real money gaming, you know where you stand from the beginning.


As we mentioned, social games are free to play, but you will need regular payments to be competitive. At first glance, they don’t look like much, just a few bucks a pop. But those pops quickly add up and there are people spending hundreds of dollars each month on them. Some even spend that much in a day. While players claim that they get their money’s worth from the satisfaction they have playing, they won’t see any of that money back. With real money gaming, you can easily spend as much as Candy Crush Saga players. The difference is that you have a high chance of winning at least some of the money you invested. Modern casino games have RTR (return to player) of over 96% on average. That means that 96% of all money spent on online slots find its way back to players’ pockets.


It is a well-known fact that both social gaming and real money gaming can cause addiction. However, the difference is that social gaming addiction is far less frowned upon. To make matters worse, it can cause even greater problems than gambling addiction in some cases. The amount of time social gamers devote to their games is far greater than real money gamers do. On average, an active social gamer plays at least once every two days. In comparison, an average gambler plays once every four days. One reason social gamers spend more time on their games may be explained by their higher visibility. Their games are present every time they engage with their friends on Facebook or other social media. Gamblers don’t have such temptations and play less frequently.

In the end, the choice between social gaming and real money gaming is a personal one. To each their own, as they say. However, claiming that social gaming is a cheaper or less addictive form of entertainment is simply not true. Both forms of gaming have ways of getting their hooks into the players. The difference is that with real money gaming, you know that from the start. Social games are much more candid with their intentions.