Call “Gacha” what it is: gambling

Grant Thomas (‘18)

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Pokémon Go was a wake-up call for the gaming industry. Almost overnight, developers realized the untapped potential of the mobile market. Since then, many developers have flocked to the mobile market. While there are a wide variety of mobile games, one genre has quickly risen to the top: “Gacha” — or “Gasha.”

Gacha games get their name from Japanese Gashapon machines: coin-operated vending machines that vend random capsule toys. “Gacha” games operate similarly. Players use an in-game currency to “pull” a resource — like a character or weapon — from a pool.

The more powerful a resource is, the more rare it is. Some popular examples include Fire Emblem Heroes, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Puzzles and Dragons, and Kingdom Hearts Union χ [cross].

Not only are these games popular, they are profitable. According to estimates from — a resource used by industry professionals), Fire Emblem Heroes and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius make about $92,580 and $10,855 a day, respectively.

The problem with “Gacha” is that it is not a game; it is gambling. Players have no guarantee that they will pull something they want, regardless of how much real money they spend.

While the user can play the game without spending anything, it is easy to get stuck behind a pay wall or struggle with high-level Player vs. Player. Usually, there is not a market where players can trade with each other, forcing them to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars and perhaps still come up dry.

Furthermore, even if the player does get the item he or she is looking for, it is only valuable in the game; whereas the money players win playing blackjack is real money. Perhaps the most insidious thing about “Gacha” games is that since they are most commonly mobile games, they can easily fall into the hands of children.

It is time for us to step up. “Gacha” games need to be labeled as gambling games and become subject to the same legal restrictions. Complete “Gacha” — a specific style of “Gacha” games — was declared illegal in Japan, and other countries force games to publish pull rates. Short of legal action, we as consumers can do something too.

Developers make these games because these games make them money. If we do not invest money in these games, developers will stop making them. But that means we need to be more critical of our digital entertainment, and call out these games for what they are.

Grant Thomas (‘18)

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