Somehow, I Can't Get Hooked On Anime Gambling Games

You know gacha games, right? Those free-to-play anime games with built-in slot machines you can play to collect new characters? They’re everywhere. Smartphone app stores are absolutely lousy with them because you can get them all for free, and people love things that are free, even if they ultimately end up being not free. As someone who is kind of bored with his smartphone these days, I’m constantly looking for new ways to amuse myself with it. I would love for one to be a gacha game, but none of them seem to stick.

On one hand, I should probably consider myself fortunate. Despite their variety — some gacha games are action role-playing games; others are strategy games; others are card battlers — they’re all ultimately designed to get you to pull the gacha crank as much as possible. You pay real-world money for the gacha game’s virtual currency, which you can then spend to pull the gacha crank and get a cool character. Spend more, and you can up your odds of getting cooler, limited-run characters.

Put simply, gacha games are about gambling. That’s not my favourite way to game, but in those boring, idle moments with my phone, the appeal is obvious. And I can have fun without making it a real gambling habit, right?

Gacha games, however, are extremely invested in giving me one. Whenever I download a new one, I’m given an armload of free stuff, the meaning of most of which is lost on me, but I know a pusher when I see one. Which is why I have no idea why I keep trying to get hooked.

Every few months, I’ll download a new gacha game, play it for a solid 20 minutes, and remember to log in every day to get the daily bonuses for about two weeks. This is, at first, the reason I keep coming, because getting new free stuff is nice, even if it doesn’t mean jack.

I’ll look at my starter characters and lament how thoroughly average they are. I’ll use my welcome rewards to get better characters and see how satisfying gambling can be. And then I’ll get a bunch of mediocre characters and see how boring gambling can be. This all happens before I spend a dollar of my own, which is nice.

I’m dazzled by the variety of gacha games, but constantly disappointed by the thinness of the “game” part. The gameplay generally involves building out the best team you can with what you have and spending your various resources to upgrade said team so you can grind out the levels you’ve already played at higher difficulties for greater rewards (and more chances to pull the slot machine. But even the well-done ones—Dragalia Lost comes to mind, as does the now-defunct Terra Battle 2 — are essentially mindless while you play them.

The appeal of another pull of the gacha crank isn’t lost on me. I’m on the internet! I’m always looking for something novel and different. It’s just that so little of a gacha pull surprises me. It is, largely, stats and star ratings and neat art of a character I might be fond of. I might as well flip through Twitter, a platform with a terrible drop rate of actual good stuff submerged in a morass of crap.

But on Twitter, I genuinely don’t know what I’m going to get, and sometimes I find stuff that I didn’t even know I wanted, like all those fake movie-credits songs Demi Adejuyigbe makes. It’s rewarding, but it’s still, primarily, a spectacular way to waste time.


Comments

    Not sure if anyone has tried Honkai Impact 3, but its probably the best gatcha game out there in terms of graphics, gameplay, and character design.

      "Best gatcha game" to me that sounds more like "the best herpes".

        If you're going to get herpes, might as well get the least harmful ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Those free-to-play anime games with built-in slot machines you can play to collect new characters?What does anime have to do with it? The rest of the article highlights perfectly the problem with them without making any reference to anime. It's also something of an over-generalisation as the visual style does vary between gacha games, and there's a large number of Korean gachas which I guess would make them "Aeni" gambling games?

    The visual style does factor in a lot though because there's a reason gacha games are called "Waifu-collector" games. No one would really play them if it was hairy, overweight, bald guys... unless that's your thing.

    I really enjoyed the Langrisser one. Mostly because it creates a new cast and takes them on a dimension-hopping tour of previous Langrisser game campaigns.

    It does have its hand out all the time, but I was able to quite happily ignore it and progress steadily through for several months. The 'game' part is basically straight out of the real games. More complex than the old Shining Force predecessors.

    I've hit a wall now - a grind/pay-wall, by the looks of it - so I've hung it up. But it was definitely several months of enjoyable exploring both new and familiar characters.

    Azur Lane is my go to gacha game and the only one I’ve consistently enjoyed gameplay wise. The Ai Kizuna collaboration was hilarious.

    SMT Dx2 is the one I’ve tried to get into the most but also the one that seems to want me to not play, between the terrible writing and characters, the gameplay modes that feel almost like a proper SMT but miss the spark, and the lacklustre fusion.

    DoAX Venus Vacation is my current jam tho. I can’t resist Ayane, and Nyotengu is being belligerently unobtainable. Instead I get every one of Kasumi’s SSR swimsuits and she’s my least favourite character.

    Depends. for instance fate grand order is one based on a franchise people were already into and continues to expand on it. just jumping into one doesn't always last but, finding that some have a pre-existing fandom helps settle down and understand things from the get go.

    Dragalia Lost is actually really good and there’s a really good amount of game and events involved that are easy enough to get through without spending any money but also challenging enough that completing them isn’t a formality. Furthermore, anything by Cygames is pretty good.

    I can't see the appeal at all, but then that's just taste. If you don't like them, why do you keep trying them?

    I have no idea why I keep trying to get hooked
    Yeah that's the question haha. Gacha games are entirely built around the monetisation, gameplay is an afterthought. Maybe you are just being too optimistic :)

    I've been playing Uta Macross, a rhythm gatcha game. It has a fixed cast but an ever expanding song list. Playing for the songs so not much temptation to pull those costumes or better plates to get higher scores.

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