Although these pay-to-win games have been around since the early 2000s, the West has only recently experienced the phenomenon that is gacha games.
Gacha is a genre of video game that uses in-game currency to gamble for in-game prizes. While most gacha games nowadays are free-to-play, options to buy in-game currency with real money are heavily promoted during the gameplay.
In these games, randomized machines are used to pull prizes of varying rarity. There is a small chance to get 5-star legendary prizes – the rarest of all possibilities – but players will always get something in return.
Each gacha game is different allowing players to get different prizes, which can range from playable characters to game experience points. For example, the popular gacha game Genshin Impact merges open-world fantasy gameplay with an unlockable character and weapon system, finding players inclined to collect and unlock everything. Many of the most popular games in media right now are gacha games, including Raid: Shadow Legends and Cookie Run Kingdom.
There are many reasons why these games are popular, including their consistent updates, free cost and enjoyable experience. The ability for a player to collect many different items is also a point of interest. In a lot of the games, players can earn rewards just for logging in and doing daily tasks.
In many countries, gacha games are outlawed due to the loot-box-esque nature of the genre. While there isn’t a clear motion to ban gacha games from app stores in the United States, some argue that the gambling aspect of the games may be unfair or too addicting – especially for children.
Despite the unassuming nature of gacha games, their market-like aspect may not be in the best interest of those who are susceptible to gambling or impulsive spending.