Gacha Games - Why Players Are Spending Thousands

Gacha games are becoming increasingly common in the west, but many anime fans might not know what they are or how they work, and why players are spending thousands of dollars on them.

What Is a Gacha Game?

The name Gacha comes from Japanese gashapon machines. "Gashapon" is an onomatopoeic word. Turning the handle to dispense a toy makes a "Gacha" sound, while the prize falling out makes a “pon” sound.

Fire Emblem Heroes, Granblue Fantasy, Love Live! School Idol Festival, and Fate/Grand Order are a few of the more popular games in the genre.

Most Gacha games are on Android, iPhone, and PC. Although the gameplay for each game can vary, the main appeal is almost always the inclusion of anime style characters from various series.

These characters can be obtained through a Gacha, or loot box system. Friend Point Gachas and premium item Gachas are the two most prominent types.

Friend Points aka “Free Summons”

These points are used to summon lower tier characters. Low tier characters are often weak, but useful to players who have no interest in in-game purchases.

The most common way to obtain points is to use a character from your friends list in gameplay. Points let you summon characters with average stats and possible effects. 

Love Live! School Idol Festival, for instance, gives players the option of using a guest character from your friends list to boost your team’s overall performance and provide you with friend points.

Premium Gacha

Premium Gacha gives players the chance to roll, or draw, more powerful characters.

However, this type of Gatcha requires a unique item that can only be obtained through log-in bonuses, in-game events, sheer luck during gameplay, and in-game purchases. 

For example, in Love Live! these items are called “love gems.” As you can see above, purchasing multiple love gems can end up costing quite a bit.

Why Do People Purchase Gacha Items?

Most games are designed so that players always roll from banners that promote a specific set of characters or cards. 

Banners encourage you to spend more and more until you obtain your “target,” because banners are your best shot at getting a specific character. 

Players can roll a single draw, or a 10+ draw, in order to obtain more powerful characters. Most games suggest players roll a 10+ draw because it increases their chances of obtaining rare cards. 

However, many players solo draw hoping their desired card will somehow appear. Unfortunately, it is a trap. 

Draw Rates

The probability of drawing the character you want depends on its rarity. For instance, above are the typical draw rates in Love Live! School Idol Festival.

UR, or Ultra-Rare, cards are the most powerful and have the lowest probability of appearing. R cards, while still better than friend point cards, are inferior to UR in terms of power, performance, and even character art. 

Addiction and Over Spending

Players who usually have self-control do not have to worry about overspending. "Whales," on the other hand, are an exception, as they are usually players who have no issue spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on Gacha items. 

To a player who enjoys free content there is the question: “Why do people go crazy with their money?"

It depends on the following: 

  1. How badly does a player want a certain a card or character? Self-explanatory, as there are fans who will go to any extreme for their waifus or husbandos. 
  2. Is it a limited character event that rarely comes out? Granblue Fantasy was an example of this during Chinese New Year. They released SSR characters that aligned with the zodiac sign of that year, and you could only draw those characters during the course of that year. Failure to do so resulted in players having to wait for special character banners to get another chance at summoning them.
  3. They simply have the money to spend and no problems doing so. These players might be wealthy or they are too invested in their favorite games to not even worry about the consequences of their purchases.

Limits on Overspending

The main issue of Gacha lies within minors. Many of these games are marketed towards children and adolescents. As a result, there is a constant fear of people from these demographics getting addicted to overspending, especially in Japan.

Many parents and guardians worry that their children are slowly being introduced to a new type of gambling. In an effort to control this, many Gacha games are now required to enforce parental supervision or a purchase limit where the player is restricted in spending past a certain amount depending on their age.

For instance, if a player is 10 years old, they are not allowed to spend more than $10 to $15 on the game per month. If a player tries to change their age, they must go through an age verification check.

To Spend, or Not Spend: That Is The Question

The decision comes down to a player’s desire for a particular character or card. Many argue that overspending, while harmful, supports funding for their favorite series. 

While it’s fine to spend a little bit of money, getting into the habit of overspending can be financially harmful, especially if you’re choosing between making next month’s rent and assembling a virtual team of your favorite waifu idols. 

Remember, just because you can spend money on your waifus, doesn’t mean you need to become broke over them.