If you have played video games as long as I have, then you might be familiar with the words “gacha” and “loot box”. In hindsight, these two might be similar to each other as they functionally work the same; you spend in-game currency to stand a chance to get an item, character or cosmetic in various rarities for free. However, these two have garnered negative opinions from every gamer and developers in the community as it popularized video game gambling in recent years. In this article, I will explain their influence in video games and why they have garnered a negative reputation in their own sections.
It’s A “Surprise Mechanic”
Let’s talk about loot boxes first. It was originally designed to reward players by giving out randomized cosmetic items for free or in the case of trading card games, to provide random cards that allow players to build and improve their decks. It is in the blood of every gamer to customize their favorite characters, including their own, to tackle the game’s hardest content while looking good. This created a popular meme on games with character creation as players would over exaggerate the amount of time they’ll take to create their own characters.
However, Electronic Arts, or EA, abused this system by adding playable characters into their loot boxes while charging a steep price that forces players to invest multiple days to earn just enough for one character. This has garnered the attention of the government as it preys not only on their players’ wallets but on children as well as they would usually play on their parent’s accounts which could accidentally cause them to spend their parent’s money on loot boxes. EA was summoned to court and defended their practice by denying they are using loot boxes as a video game gambling scheme but as a “surprise mechanic” that instils excitement. Of course, the court was having none of it and demanded that they change immediately. This event had led to the introduction of a bill that prohibits children under 18 from purchasing loot boxes.
Even though loot boxes are so frowned upon, why do some companies still add them into their games? It is because gamers are always looking for cheaper ways to change their characters’ designs. Loot boxes video games provide a cheap alternative for free-to-play players to earn cosmetics by completing certain tasks to earn a loot box.
Fun Or Crippling Addiction?
Gacha game is a genre of games that involves “rolling” for characters and equipment in “banners”. LIke loot boxes, gacha games plague over video games as most game developers would try to find a way to implement a gacha system. However, what makes gachagaming much worse than loot boxes video games is that some games required players to get stronger units to progress harder content. It wasn’t a major issue because you would find gacha games only in mobile games until Genshin Impact was released.
Genshin Impact is developed by Mihoyo who has also developed Honkai Impact 3rd, another popular gacha game that is known for its fast-paced action gameplay. Because it was released when coronavirus was at it’s deadliest, it has attracted the attention of even non-gamers around the world. It is an open world, action RPG game that can hook everyone into its world building and it is downloadable for free on almost every platform.
As players reach their first town, Monstadt, they will unlock their gacha feature which is called Wish. In hindsight, it was deemed normal since Mihoyo’s Honkai Impact 3rd is an established gacha game, but as dedicated players digged deeper, they found a terrible reality that shook even the gachagaming veterans. As gacha players, you are obligated to know the drop rate of the highest rarity units and equipment of the games you are playing. In Genshin, it has the lowest drop rate of all gacha games and it is not an exaggeration. Most games would have at least 1% chance to get the unit of the highest rarity, but Genshin has an atrocious 0.01% drop rate – according to Jeni Lada, a writer for Siliconera.
So, why is the gacha in Genshin such a big deal when there are gacha games with a similarly worse system? Because it is rapidly growing in popularity that it has generated USD 1 billion since its release – according to Kotaku’s Ian Walker. For min makers, it is their worst nightmare when they have to spend the same currencies to roll for high rarity weapons as well. Despite providing ways for players to earn in-game currencies, players are still left unsatisfied with the lack of alternative methods of earning currencies to roll for their desired banners.
Some gacha addicts have dedicated their life into their favorite gacha games that they are willing to spend all of their life savings for virtual characters and obtain bragging rights whenever they get the community’s most popular characters..
Recommended Gacha Games To Play
Despite my negative stance on gacha games, it can provide some mindless fun and interesting storytelling. Arknights is one of, if not, the best gacha games to invest your time into. You can easily set up your squad without needing extra equipment to enhance your units. And best of all, it doesn’t overly sexualize its female characters like some other gacha games. On the contrary, Arknights has tons of unique character designs and lore that you will find yourself immersed in its unique premise and amazing world-building. If you are looking for a more action-packed video game, then you might find Honkai Impact 3rd right up your alley. Despite being developed by the same people who made Genshin Impact, their gacha is more generous, especially for newcomers.
If you’re looking for some games to kill time during lockdown, check out this article where I wrote about 5 best games you can play during lockdown in Malaysia.