What Is Collusion Game Theory?


Vincent White

Collusion Game Theory: An In-Depth Guide

Have you ever heard of the term “collusion game theory”? If you are familiar with game theory, then you might already have an idea about what it means. But for those who are new to this concept, let us break it down for you.

What is Game Theory?

Game theory is a mathematical approach that analyzes the behavior of individuals or groups in strategic situations. It looks at how people make decisions based on their understanding of the situation and the possible outcomes.

In simple terms, game theory helps us understand how people interact with each other in different scenarios. It can be applied to various fields such as economics, politics, and psychology.

What is Collusion?

Collusion is a form of cooperation between two or more parties to achieve a common goal. In game theory, collusion refers to a situation where two or more players work together to gain an advantage over other players.

For instance, imagine a scenario where two companies are bidding for a contract. Instead of competing against each other, they collude and agree to submit higher bids to win the contract. By doing so, they eliminate competition and increase their chances of winning.

How Does Collusion Work in Game Theory?

In game theory, collusion is often analyzed using the prisoner’s dilemma game. The prisoner’s dilemma is a classic example that illustrates how rational individuals might not cooperate even when it’s in their best interest to do so.

The game involves two players who are arrested for committing a crime together. The police do not have enough evidence to convict them but can charge them with a lesser offense if one confesses and implicates the other.

If both players stay silent (cooperate), they will receive only a small sentence for the lesser offense. If one player confesses (defects) and implicates the other while the other stays silent (cooperates), the defector will go free, and the other will receive a harsh punishment. If both players confess (defect), they will receive moderate sentences.

In this game, cooperation is the best outcome for both players. However, if they act rationally, they might defect and betray each other to avoid getting punished.

Why Do Players Collude?

Players might collude for various reasons. In some cases, collusion can be beneficial for all parties involved. For example, two countries might collude to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

However, in most cases, collusion is harmful to other players who are not part of the agreement. Companies that collude to fix prices or monopolize markets harm consumers by limiting their choices and increasing prices.


Collusion game theory is an essential tool that helps us understand how people cooperate and compete in strategic situations. It can help policymakers design better regulations that prevent harmful collusion while promoting beneficial cooperation.

Next time you hear about a company or a group of individuals colluding, remember the prisoner’s dilemma game and ask yourself whether it’s in everyone’s best interest or not.