Why gacha is the ‘gotcha’ tactic of MMO sales

Making money in free-to-play games isn’t as simple as pursuing a single revenue stream. Often studios are looking at multiple approaches to coax players to part with their money in exchange for various goods and services. Now we all know that psychological manipulation is a key part of monetization, which is why it behooves you to read this Gamasutra article on a specific type of microtransaction moneymaking called “gacha.”

Gacha is derived from Japanese vending machines that people would pay for a random toy that is part of a set. The idea is, in both the physical and video game space, that by convincing customers to repeatedly buy objects for a chance to complete a set, the customer will often end up purchasing many repeats (and thus buy the same thing more than once). Gacha can be implemented in many interesting ways in video games, turning the process into a game in and of itself (that costs real money to play).

Is this method evil or entertaining? The article says that it leans toward the latter: “Gacha is a powerful game design technique that allows developers to successfully monetize on F2P market. It’s worth to remember that gacha may be designed in numerous ways that don’t exploit human addictions to gambling but entertain and monetize in a synergy.”

Source: Gamasutra
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47 Comments on "Why gacha is the ‘gotcha’ tactic of MMO sales"

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socontrariwise

I believe it is simply gambling: you pay money for a low chance of getting something worth more money than you actually pay. Surprised the US with its strict anti-gambling laws isn’t already all over this since years.

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Melissa McDonald

so it’s just football/baseball cards then, innit?
edit: I guess I am not a collector. I am sitting here crosseyed trying to think of anything, anything at all that I have strove to gather all of a type or a colour or whatever. Buttons? thimbles? bottle caps? nothing really. It never appealed to me much in EQ2, and collections are a minigame there.

capt_north
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capt_north

I do lockboxes now and then, but I never get the prize I covet, and I don’t have the cash to accumulate enough “second-chance” tokens to buy it outright, and the filler trash they stuff them with is annoying as hell. So even if you’re not adamantly opposed to the concept, most of the implementations are, at best, sorely lacking.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

I have never played Magic the Gathering. It became huge back when I was still playing all sorts of games with friends and some of them even got into it. I never shared the interest because, from day 1, I have considered it a complete scam.

I could barely bring myself to buying miniatures for RPG games to match characters/npcs … and upon hearing I had to buy countless card packs of often repeated cards: WTF?!

Now video games use it. With my countless tirades over this insanity, you can imagine my view of this industry of late.

kjempff
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kjempff

Wouldn’t it be great if game developers put their effort into creating good games and make money because of that, instead of speculating on how to exploit human weaknesses.

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Brother Maynard

Some still do – look at CD Projekt Red / Witcher 3.
But yeah, there’s too few of them these days…

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Robert Mann

Works off gambling psychology. “Doesn’t exploit gambling.” Great job saying it isn’t what it is, have a cookie!

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Denice J. Cook

That Gacha article was poorly written: I’m assuming the author was a native of Asia and that English is his second language. I’m surprised Gamasutra published it without editing it beforehand, though.

Reader

To be blunt, I will not EVER use a Gacha system. It’s fully “gotchya” as in “Gotchya money!”. If I want something, I WILL PURCHASE IT DIRECTLY. I do not do lockboxes, and I do not do Gacha. Ever.

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Erik Heinze-Milne

And if it cannot be purchased directly AT A REASONABLE PRICE, then it will not be purchased at all.

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Schmidt.Capela

I don’t care if people find it entertaining. I will never, ever, spend even a single cent in gachas or anything similar. Heck, I don’t play Magic or similar collectable games, despite liking some of the concept, because I can’t stand the very thought of purchasing “boosters” that come with random cards.

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Koshelkin

Scalping people is a “game design technique”. Ok.