There are tons of gacha games on mobile. In fact, it's probably the largest game genre on iOS and Android, containing a plethora of franchises from Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, and more.
Gacha games are quite popular right now. The most popular ones have millions of installs, and even the smaller ones have a loyal following. These games have a specific style of gameplay. They usually have old-fashioned JRPG combat mechanics as well as very long storylines, various types of special events, and sometimes online multiplayer.
Gacha is one of the most popular formats on the mobile market. Gacha games come in a very different format and can allow companies to see huge profit margins. Find out how gacha works, how it makes money and gains fans.
What is a gacha game?
The word gacha comes from the click of the Japanese gacha (toy dispenser), and the game mechanics themselves are based on the randomness of the prizes. gacha games are (almost always) free, and rely on "pulling" or "rolling" for prizes to get new characters, items, or upgrades. Players have the opportunity to earn these prizes by spending in-game currency. They can also convert real money to circumvent the time required to acquire in-game currency.
Rewards are random, but not exclusively. Each gacha has its own drop rate - the odds of getting a specific item or character. For the rarest and most valuable rewards in the game, these odds are minimal. The gacha system is better suited to certain mobile game genres than others. For example, it is often found in role-playing games. These games are character-centric, and through gacha, players can usually summon or upgrade them.
Gacha game mechanics are in stark contrast to the pay-to-win model (a game where players can simply buy the upgrades and items they want), where rewards are completely randomized. Players can play the game entirely on the in-game currency they earn throughout, but the time it takes to earn in-game currency often results in players spending real-world money if they want to get newer and better prizes faster.
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Gacha mobile games are often compared to loot boxes (in-game boxes that can be redeemed to provide players with random rewards, such as items, skins or loot). Despite the similarities, there are some core differences between the two. The business models differ as gacha is primarily found in free-to-play mobile games and is often the primary monetization mechanism, while loot boxes are primarily found in full-price console or PC games as a supplemental monetization element. Both offer items with varying rarity, new characters, and cosmetic/social rewards. While both require payment of in-game currency or real money converted to virtual currency for random prizes, gacha has a broader range of genres and game mechanics.
Types of gacha game
gacha eggs are not one shape or size. All gachas operate on the same basic principle. However, certain types of gacha will offer players better odds, while others will give them large rewards, and so on.
Let's review the different types of gachas that appear in mobile games.
In a complete gacha, players need to collect a set of gacha props. Once they have completed the set, they can finally turn it into a rare and valuable item. As a result, the chances of players winning rare items are very low.
For this reason, this type of gacha is very controversial, and was declared illegal to use in Japan in 2012. After this, developers found more creative ways to apply the gacha mechanic to their games.
Upgrade gacha gives players a greater chance of winning rare prizes from each successive pull. This type of gacha is particularly effective for high spending players, as the best rewards depend on how much a player spends in a single session or over a period of time. The rarity of your reward is then reset in subsequent sessions. An example of this type of gacha is DragonBall Legends, which offers players guaranteed rare characters after the fourth and seventh pulls.
This is a box that contains certain gacha items with public odds. In this type of gacha, the reward pool is limited. Each time a player pulls an item from the box, the number of items left inside is reduced. Just like when you pull a piece of candy out of a candy box. As a result, the chances of winning rare items increase with each pull.
Players understand that each reward is checked off and can predict the cost of each pull and the likelihood of winning a higher reward. This provides players with a cost-effective incentive to pull more, since they cannot get the same item twice.
Also known as Continuous gacha, if players spend a lot of in-game currency, they have a better chance of getting a better, rarer reward. When players pull several times in a row, they earn "scratch points". This allows players to pay a higher amount and pull multiple times instead of doing one round at a time. This method always provides a discount for the amount of various pulls the player makes. Once players have enough scratch points, they can scratch the box to see what prizes they have received.
This type of gacha is named after the Japanese board game, which also works like a game.
In this type of gacha, players need to move characters around a board made up of squares. Each of these squares brings a certain prize to the player. The farther the squares are, the better the prize.
Players will stumble upon a game of luck each time they roll a gacha. For example, roll the dice or spin the wheel. Thus, luck determines how far their character can go.
How to create and balance gacha system?
There are 3 key aspects that are key for making a gacha system work: depth, width and desire.
Gacha depth is about making sure your gacha lasts as long as possible.Gacha will last a long time until the player runs out of content (or the reason for quitting gacha), or gacha will last a long time until it feels like the player is not making meaningful progress from it.
Gacha depth is critical, as more and more games rely heavily on gacha as their core retention and monetization (e.g., all games that replicate Clash Royale's progression system and gacha). The deeper your gacha, the higher your long term retention + max economic spend.
To know what the depth of your gacha model is, you need to model your max drops. The model should consider the key variables that affect the cadence and depth of gacha.
- How much content you have
- What your copy is for
- The number of rare items and their drop rates
- Pool changes (such as adding and removing content that can be removed from the gacha)
Gacha width is about making sure your system puts pressure on as many collections of content as possible.
Gacha width is about making sure players don't feel bad after a fall. To do this, make all content as relevant and useful as possible. Here are 4 example features below that drive width.
1. Load Size
Require players to bring various items into core combat.
For example, in Call of Duty, your loadout includes guns, pistols, weapon accessories, etc.
You bring 30 cards in Hearthstone Legends and 8 cards in Battle Royale.
Make sure the collection to be important, but not so much that players can create a perfect team.
2. Clear advantages and disadvantages
Elemental systems are needed to ensure that there is no perfect team and that players need to constantly shift their teams to take advantage of the situation.
3. Implicit counters
Sparking a debate among your audience about what is the best setup for metadata will drive powerful collections.
The more content players have - the more they can try or prepare for a changing meta.
4. Game modes
Include game modes in the game that explicitly reward players with a large number of heroes.
For example, gauntlet mode in Heroes Charge or Galactic War in Galaxy of Hero: the more heroes you have and the longer you survive, the higher the rewards you get.
Gacha desire is to ensure that your progress in the game is effectively synchronized with gacha's content. Players need gacha in order to progress through the game.
Look at your system. How important is the gacha content to progress?
How important is skill? Can high-skilled players easily get through your game? Do low skill players find gacha unhelpful?
Are there mechanics in the game that diminish the usefulness of gacha?
The progression system on the gacha side of the system is more important than the gacha content.