Gacha System: What is a gacha game?

Monster collection from Puzzle & Dragons, hero gacha from Valiant Force, and a gacha pull from Tales of The Rays (left to right).

What is “Gacha”?

Gacha (ガチャ) is a Japanese word which, long before gacha games were on mobile, was originally associated with coin operated toy dispensers. These toy dispensers usually gave customers a plastic egg with a random toy/figure inside. These sort of machines were, and to some degree still are, popular around the world. Each machine typically has a set of toys or figures, and you never know which figure it will give you, creating an element of chance. So if you want a particular figure, or the entire set, you will either need to buy more figures than you actually need, or trade with others.

What is a gacha game?

Much like gacha machines, gacha games were popularized in Japan. Gacha mechanics, when properly implemented in games, is a powerful monetization technique. It applies the principles of gacha machines to gaming, where you are trying to acquire new characters or items instead of toys or figures. So instead of putting in a dollar and hoping for a particular figure in the real world, you are now using gems, crystals or some other form of currency to attempt to get a particular character in the virtual world. Gacha games are those games where the gacha mechanic is central to the game, and getting new characters and powering them up is as much a part of the game as combat.

Hero gacha in Valiant Force, a gacha game
Hero gacha in Valiant Force

What are some examples of gacha games?

Here are a few of the popular Gacha games currently on Android:

Why are gacha mechanics so popular?

At the end of the game, it’s money. Gacha mechanics can effectively lead to potentially limitless spending from users that want to get a particular character. There have been cases of individual users spending thousands of dollars in gacha games in hopes of getting either the most powerful or their favorite hero. And the real cost of creating those characters is almost non-existent. That formula has led to users who addicted to gacha games and companies that are making great deals of money. It has gotten to the point that Japan’s legal system has gotten involved. The gacha game formula allows companies to earn significant revenue which is then spent on promoting the game, thus leading to even more revenue.

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