What is a Gacha game?

This genre has taken over mobile gaming, but what is it actually about?

Photo by Alex Ware/Creative Commons

If you have so much as dipped your toe into the world of mobile games, there is a very high probability that you have come across a Gacha game. This genre has taken over the world of mobile games and you can see its effects all over the place, even beyond the realm of mobile. But what exactly is a Gacha game, and what makes it that? What are the mechanics?

The term “Gacha” comes from the Japanese “Gashapon” machines, machines that give you containers that hold a surprise toy inside after you put in money. You do not know what toy you will get when putting your money in, and most of the fun comes from the surprise of seeing what it is.

This describes the basic nature of a Gacha game. In these games, you spend real-world money to open boxes or packs that will give you characters or items, often based on popular brands. You then take what you got and use them to battle other players and complete challenges. Many items or characters can also have multiple variations, such as in rarity, power, and more.

Think of it as a trading card game like Pokemon. You buy packs of cards, not knowing what will be in each one. You open it and then can choose which of those cards you want to put in your deck to improve it. Occasionally, you may get an ultra-rare card, but those are few and far between and often require you to spend a good amount of money to find them.

It’s also a very similar kind of mechanic to loot boxes that we see in many Western games, like Overwatch. A key difference, however, is that for the most part, these loot boxes will only give cosmetic items, whereas Gacha games will give you things that will help you in gameplay.

Problems, of course, arise with this kind of game, as many view this sort of mechanic as a form of gambling, and to make matters worse, the barrier to entry is low. This means that kids can easily get involved, purchasing items without a parent noticing.

Regardless, Gacha is a mainstay of the mobile gaming industry and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The most important thing is to be aware of what kind of game you are downloading for yourself or a child and make smart decisions.