There are numerous rabbit holes that exist on all surfaces of the internet. It is both a curse and a blessing. However, as far as mobile games are concerned, one of the most well-known rabbit holes belongs to a category of games called “gacha games”.
For those that are unfamiliar with the term, gacha games are video games that contain mechanics that are known as “gacha”, or Japanese toy vending machines. Each of these vending machines contains goods or toys that pertains to a specific theme, ranging from anime-based toys or small gadgets. However, there are various selections of goods in each vending machine. For a set price, usually small changes, you can feed into one of these gacha machines and obtain a capsule that contains one of the toys from the featured selection. The catch is, you have no control which one of the goods you will obtain. Unlike crane machines, where you have some level of control of your destiny, what you obtain is completely up to luck. The only sure thing is that your money is spent. These toy vending machines can be often found in public locations such as a grocery store, convenient store, or even outside of public establishments in Japan.
While there are games on all platforms that adopted this particular business model, mobile games have been notoriously famous for utilizing this way of earning their revenue. In the majority of the cases, new characters or equipment are behind a paywall, and players will have to spend premium currencies to have a chance of obtaining the characters or equipment. In order to obtain premium currencies, players will have to complete daily quests or specific game events, or spend real money to buy them.
Players can view this as a natural evolution of the microtransaction business model. However, instead of purchasing for services, players are essentially gambling the in-game premium currencies on the chance of obtaining the desired characters or equipment. Some players despise this approach of monetization, arguing that why pay for games that are not “a complete package” . But the number’s don’t lie. Genshin Impact, the recent heavy-weight mobile/PC title, brought home over $245 million in the first month upon release, despite the horrendous gacha rates that the game is famous for. If you thought that is impressive, let me blow your mind even further. The OG amongst the gacha game galaxy, Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle, or glorified bubble popper simulation, reached $2 billion in lifetime revenue back in 2019.The game is still very much alive and consistently maintains its elite position of top 5 gross revenue game world wide. At the time this article is written, Dokkan Battle is 6 years old, and the Dokkan community is alive and active as /r/WSB.
Not convinced? There have been several known cases where players invested their entire life savings into the game. Nearly 3 years ago, Wall Street Journal published a story of a Japanese man spending approximately $70,000 in the game Fate/Grand Order. If interested in hearing more, the link to the interview is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-fxfuWhff0&t=74s
So should you be wary of the rabbit hole and avoid it altogether? No! There are some absolute banger of a game that adopts the gacha system but is totally enjoyable for little or no spenders, in other friends, free-to-play friendly! Part of the reason Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle and Fate/Grand Order have such a strong community is because both games do not require you to spend money to reach end-game level. So do your own research, test the game out for yourself, and judge for yourself!