For many people in the world of television, Deal or No Deal has held up as one of the simplest, but most compelling game shows that there is. For others, they even question whether it’s a game show at all. Contestants need no skill, have no requirement to answer general knowledge questions, and aren’t even competing with anyone else.
At its essence, Deal or No Deal has always been a gambling game in which the contestant simply has to weigh up the likelihood that the box that they have in front of them contains an amount of money worth winning. However, ever since the game was first introduced in the Netherlands 20 years ago, it has held TV audiences all over the world quite spellbound. This, combined with the extremely low production costs, are what has made it quite so popular with TV networks worldwide.
Of course, as anyone who’s seen the program on TV will know, there is the additional drama added by the phone calls of the anonymous banker – although the banker of the US version has been revealed. It is his role to offer a cash incentive for the contestant to take the payoff and stop the game – and the live studio audience generally has a role to play in helping them to make up their mind.
In the US the program has been such a success that it has run continuously, albeit on different networks, from 2005 until the present day and shows no sign of disappearing from the schedules. In the UK it was pulled in 2016, but its popularity lives on in a much-visited fan site.
From its distinctly low-tech origins, it is now enjoying a second lease of life, even while its first one is still alive and kicking in many parts of the world. This is in the form of not just a number of online bingo games but in slots games too. In the case of the former, the games are the standard 75 and 90 ball varieties but with the added twist for the person to first get a full house. They automatically trigger an offer from the automated banker which may or may not be higher than the amount in the winning box.
An interactive “audience” element is introduced at this point with all the players in the game having 10 seconds in which to vote for whether the winner should take the money or open the box. The winner then has 20 seconds to act on their advice or ignore it and take their chances.
It’s an ingenious way to take a key element of the TV game and translate it into bingo and even more, excitement is in store for players who play on one of the online slots such as a recent addition to the series called Deal or No Deal: Double Action. Again, this includes many aspects of the TV show including the choice of taking the banker’s offer or trusting luck.
So, it all goes to show that a good format, however simple it is, can work in low and hi-tech media. But the one thing it does need for success is that tantalizing sense of all or nothing jeopardy!