A gacha system is an in-game monetization mechanic where you use in-game currencies to get a ‘chance’ to get something. Often seen in Eastern games as a mainstay of mobile games, it is analogous to Western loot box systems. In Genshin Impact, an action-adventure game from miHoYo, you purchase/obtain “Fates” which are the items that let you “roll on a banner”. “Rolling on a banner”
means you basically take a chance on a specific list of items to get something. The game has multiple banners, usually two unique ones with specific items having a higher chance of being obtained, and the regular one with nothing special. How it works in-game, is that you have a currency that gives you a randomized item, it’s simple but there are some complications. As somebody who has played this game consistently since launch, I feel confident in saying that I have enough experience to justify most of my claims. In Genshin Impact, you unlock characters and weapons from this system, which are both key aspects of the main gameplay. In the gameplay, you swap between characters mid-combat and synergize between them to beat your
enemies. So, if you wanted to get the 5-star characters, often seen as being the most powerful, how much would you have to spend?
The answer is a lot.
It costs around 3 euroes per roll (pictured in the screenshot below), with 90 rolls guaranteeing you a 5-star character or weapon, so you would need to spend a maximum of 270 euroes to guarantee a 5-star. You can get lucky and get it before 90 of course. However, it can be any 5-star character or weapon that within the banner. So, the odds of you getting exactly what you want is extremely low, as well as weapons being far less useful than characters.
This system has shown to be extremely controversial, because a lot of people make the comparison between gambling and gacha. As somebody who has played the game since launch, I agree with these concerns. There is no real way to defend the gacha system; it’s predatory and attempts to persuade players to spend large amounts of money to get the characters they want. However, I do not think this system takes away from the main gameplay. The only money I have spent was buying the battle pass to get the full rewards from it which costed 10 euros, and I have gotten at least over 100 hours of gameplay for this cost, with no intentions of stopping yet. I think a large part of the problem comes from people who aren’t seeing the whole picture or from people who haven’t actually played the game. Outrage culture has had an impact on the game’s reputation but despite this, the game still stands
strong on its own merits from having great gameplay, beautiful artstyle and graphics and fun characters.
Does this one system take away all these merits and ruin the game?
To be honest, I don’t think it does. The rest of the game stands on its own merits of being a legitimately fantastic game in a variety of ways, but it will forever be branded as a predatory gacha game. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is up to how people want the game to be perceived. It’s an undeniable aspect of the game, as the game was clearly designed with this monetization in mind and built around it. While it is unfortunate that it forces people who want specific characters to basically gamble to get the character they want, that’s just the sad reality of gacha games. It’s a predatory scheme to get the players hooked into the system and to coax them into eventually using real-life money to gamble even more. It’s insidious at worst, but extremely profitable at best. Fortunately, this is the only difference between paying players and non-paying players; paying players will have stronger characters and weapons. However, it is possible to clear all the content that the game offers without paying, it just requires more effort and skill to do so, which is a blessing for people who do not want to pay. Overall, while it’s a saddening trend to see gacha becoming mainstream, it’s at least attached to a really good game that isn’t affected too much by it.
Pictures; screenshots taken in-game by author